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2 APRIL 17 - MAY 14, 2009 THE INDYPENDENT 



THE INDYPENDENT 



THEINDYPENDENT 
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The Indypendent is a New York-based free 
newspaper published 17 times a year on Fridays 
to our print and online readership of more than 
100,000. The newspaper is a labor of love by a 
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zen journalists, artists and media activists have 
contributed their energy to this project. Winner 
of dozens of New York Community Media Al¬ 
liance awards, The Indypendent is dedicated to 
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by subscriptions, donations, grants, merchandise 
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with similar missions. We accept submissions that 
look at news and culture through a global lens, 
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is affiliated with the global Indymedia movement 
(indymedia.org), an international network that is 
dedicated to fostering grassroots media produc¬ 
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projects: the children’s newspaper IndyKids , the 
IndyVideo news team and the NYC IMC open 
publishing website (nyc.indymedia.org). 

VOLUNTEER CONTRIBUTORS: 

Sam Alcoff, Steven Arnerich, Eleanor Bader, 
Bennett J. Baumer, Mike Burke, Jose Carmona, 
Andrea Coghlan, Joel Cook, Louis Joe Comeau IV, 
Ellen Davidson, Soozy Duncan, Renee Feltz, Seth 
Fisher, Leo Garcia, Samantha Gorelick, Aron 
Guy, Kim Herbst, Irina Ivanova, Alex Kane, Ruth 
Kelton, Thomas Marczewski, Jonathan Matas, 
Alex Nathanson, Ana Nogueira, Jaisal Noor, 
Donald Paneth, Judith Mahoney Pasternak, 
Nicholas Powers, Katrin Redfern, Jacob Scheier, 
Ann Schneider, Sarah Secunda, Juell Stewart, Eric 
Stoner, John Tarleton, Ariel Tirosh, Yair Tygiel, 
S.M. Vidaurri, Eric Volpe, Steven Wishnia, 
Karen Yi and Rusty Zimmerman. 

Find The Indypendent online on Facebook, 
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community calendar 



Please send event announcements to 
indyevents@gmail.com The next deadline 
is May 6. 

MON APR 20 

6:30pm-9pm • FREE 
DISCUSSION: THE MOVEMENT40 
YEARS AFTER STONEWALL With 
so much talk going on about Iowa and 
Vermont, it's easy for some to forgetthe 
40 years of queer radical movements that 
have paved the way to open discussion. 
LGBT Community Center, 

208 W13th St (btw 7th & 8th Aves) 
gaycenter.org • 212-620-7310 

MON APR 20 

6:30pm • FREE 

FILM: "FARMINGVILLE." Stories of resi¬ 
dents, day laborers and activists on all 
sides of the immigration discussion after 
the attempted murder of two Mexican 
day laborers in a small Long Island town 
in 2000. RSVP requested. 

Lower East Side Tenement Museum Shop, 
108 Orchard St(atDelanceySt) 
events@tenement.org • 212-982-8420 

WED APR 22 

2pm •FREE 

ACTION: WALKOUT AND RALLY 
AGAINSTTUITION INCREASES. Onthe 
40th anniversary of the 1969 Open Ad¬ 
missions Strike, speak out and tell CUNY 
to put an end to budget cuts and tuition 
hikes to make sure that all students re¬ 
ceive a quality education at an affordable 
rate. Sponsored by City College Students 
for Educational Rights. 

CUNY Campuses (City-wide) 
cocoreed@gmail.com 

7pm •FREE 

READING/GALLERY: "EINSTEIN 
AND ROBESON ON WITHERSPOON 
STREET." Fred Jerome and Rodger 
Taylor, authors of "Einstein on Race and 
Racism" will speak abouttheir book, 
about the Einstein overlooked by biogra¬ 
phers and the ongoing Bronfman Center 
Gallery exhibition that was inspired by 
their work. Bronfman Center Gallery, 1st 
Floor, 7 E 10th St, 

nyu.edu/bronfman • 212-998-4122 

FRI APR 24 

8:30pm • FREE 

FILM: "STILL WE RIDE." After Manhat¬ 
tan Critical Mass bike ride, join the NYU 
Earth Matters Environmental Club for a 
screening of "Still We Ride," a chronicle 
of the police crackdown onthe monthly 
ride since the 2004 Republican National 
Convention. Snacks will be provided. 


Bring a photo ID to get into building. 
Kimmel Center, NYU, 60 Washington Sq 
South, Rm802 
stillweridethemovie.com 
times-up.org 

FRI APR 24 

7:30pm-9pm • $25 

BENEFIT: FOR A BETTER BRONX. For 
A Better Bronx has been fighting for 
environmental justice in the South Bronx 
since 1991, and securing victories in 
organizing against systemic oppression 
of low-income people and communities 
of color every step of the way. 

St Luke's Church Social Hall, 

623 E 138th St,Brx 
forabetterbronx.org • 718-292-4344 
marian.jabib@earthlink.net 

SUN APR 26 

3pm-7pm • FREE 

EVENT: REALLY REALLY FREE MARKET: 
THIS AIN'TYOUR GRANNY'S FLEA 
MARKET. For a taste of non-capitalist 
(really, really) free trade, checkthis out. 
Bring clothes, food and services to share, 
or stop by and take whatyou'd like. 
Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington 
SqS» inourhearts@gmail.com 

TUEAPR 28 

7pm•FREE 

ACTION: "TAKE BACKTHE NIGHT 
MARCH AND SPEAKOUT." Celebrate 
women and men who have survived 
sexual assault, rape and violence. March 
to assert every person's rightto safety, 
and speak outto share your experiences 
and embrace being a survivor. 

Meet at Washington Sq Park, 

March at8pm • shahida.arabi@nyu.edu 
Julie: 917-499-6065 

WED APR 29 

6pm-8pm • FREE 
FORUM: "RACE MATTERS—THE 
DEATH PENALTY AND THE INCREDIBLE 
CASE OFMUMIAABU-JAMAL!" Join 
an amazing panel of anti-death penalty 
activists to discuss the role that race 
plays in our justice system and death 
penalty legislation, in conjunction with 
a release eventfor Mumia's new book, 
Jailhouse Lawyers. 

Newark Public Library, 4th FI, 

5 Washington St, Newark, NJ 
info@freemumia.com • 201-602-0780 
freemumia.com 

FRI MAY1 

Noon • FREE 

RALLY: MARCH FOR IMMIGRANT 
RIGHTS ON MAY DAY! Rally and march 


to put an end to deportations and illegal 
raids and to call for humane immigration 
reform. 

Meet at Union Square, Broadway & 14th 
mayl.info • 212-561-1744 

SAT MAY 2 

10am-4pm»FREE 
RECYCLE: COMPUTER AND 
ELECTRONICS. Drop offyour old 
television sets, printers, laptops, radios, 
cell phones, disks, wires and computers. 
Sponsored by the Lower East Side 
Ecology Center and the Central Park 
Conservancy. 

119 W 23rd Street, (at Tekserve btw 6 & 
7th Aves), lesecologycenter.org 

TUEMAY5 

7pm-8pm • FREE 
READING/DISCUSSION: "QUIV- 
ERFULL." Author Katherine Joyce 
introduces readers to a new generation 
of fundamentalist Christian women who 
proclaim self-sacrifice and submission 
as model virtues of womanhood and as 
warfare on behalf of Christ. 

McNally Jackson, 52 Prince St(btwn 
Lafayette & Mulberry) 
mcnallyjackson.com • 212-274-1160 

FRI MAY 15 

7pm • FREE 

DISCUSSION: "FIRETHE B0SS:THE 


WORKER CONTROL SOLUTION FROM 
BUENOS AIRESTO CHICAGO." Join 
Naomi Klein, workers from Chicago's 
Republic Windows and Doors and activ¬ 
ists from all around the world as they 
discuss howto take back control and put 
itbackinthe hands ofthe people who 
really deserve it. 

Cooper Union Great Hall, 7 E7th St(btw 
3rd Ave& Cooper Sq) 
haymarketbooks.org. 

6pm-9pm • $10-$20 Sliding Scale 
BENEFIT: "RADICALCOLORING BOOK 
LAUNCH PARTY." Help kids rebel against 
oppression while cluctching a Crayola! 
Celebrate four years of IndyKids with the 
launch of, "Coloring Outside the Lines," 
featuring scenes inspired from political 
protests and history. Free food, drink, 
crayons and radical folk music provided. 

145 west 122nd St, Apt 3. (Btw Lenox and 
Adam Clayton Powell), indykids.net 
indykids@indymedia.org • 212-592-0116 

SUN MAY 17 

Noon • FREE 

EVENT: SECOND ANNUALVEGGIE 
PRIDE PARADE. Celebrate the vegetar¬ 
ian lifestyle all things that grow. 

Olde Meat District, 

Gansevoort St & 9th Ave, 
veggieprideparade.org • 212-242-0011 


reader comments 

SEX WORKERS A NEED VOICE 

Response to “A Feminist’s Look 
at Climate Change ,” March 20: 

I find it problematic that you 
are including Robert Jensen as a 
commentator in your newspaper. 
Jensen is a proponent of what is 
called “rescue feminism” or “rad¬ 
ical feminism,” meaning that he 
does not support sex workers’ 
rights or harm reduction in the 
sex industry. At one time, The 
Indypendent contained an actual 
sex worker column. Whatever 
happened to that? In the future, 
The Indypendent should feature 
the voices and concerns of sex 
workers instead of the pseudo¬ 
psychology of so-called “radical 
feminists” like Jensen. 

—Susan from Staten Island 


BRING LABOR MOVEMENT 
BACK 

Response to “Battle in the Bronx,” 
March 20: 

Real wages for working people 
in this country have been stag¬ 
nant since the 1970s. Why? Be¬ 
cause labor was defeated and the 
labor movement that remained 
climbed into bed with manage¬ 
ment. We are facing some hard 
times, some brutal austerity and 
these brave workers are taking 
it on the chin for all of us. We 
all need to come together and 
support them, whatever our 
differences over strategy. They 
have showed remarkable unity 
and solidarity in this effort; can 
we not do the same? Their fight 
is our fight. 

—Beth 


DOB MAKING IT EASY TO 
CHEAT 

Response to “New Rules Favor 
Developers, Critics Charge,” 
March 20: 

While the New York City De¬ 
partment of Buildings (DOB) 
has updated their website to 
deliver more information more 
efficiently, it currently does not 
have drawings (plans) avail¬ 
able online and is not planning 
to do so in the near future. 
Many times illegal construc¬ 
tion doesn’t become evident 
from the application and sche¬ 
matic and viewing of full plans 
is crucial. Plans can be viewed 
at DOB. Aside from being a 
time-consuming task (two to 
four hours), many times plans 
are not available for one reason 


or another weeks at a time. The 
30-day deadline will make it 
a lot easier to hide illegal con¬ 
struction and to legalize it after 
the public comment period has 
expired. 

—Local Resident 
















LOCAL 



By Steven Wishnia 

N ew York State has enacted major 
changes in its Rockefeller drug 
laws, which contain some of the 
harshest mandatory minimum sentences in 
the nation. The activists who’ve been trying 
to repeal those laws for years say it’s a very 
welcome move but doesn’t go far enough. 

“I think it’s a really positive step forward. 
It is not the end of the Rockefeller drug 
laws, but hopefully, it’s the beginning of the 
end,” says Caitlin Dunklee of the Drop the 
Rock campaign, an umbrella group cam¬ 
paigning to repeal the laws. The group esti¬ 
mates that the new law might divert half the 
state’s convicted drug felons into treatment 
or other alternatives to prison. 

The changes were put into the state’s 
budget as part of a March 25 deal among 
Gov. David Paterson, state Senate Major¬ 
ity Leader Malcolm Smith and Assembly 
Speaker Sheldon Silver. 

The new law eliminates the mandatory 
minimum of a year in prison for first of¬ 
fenders charged with small-time dealing 
(Class B felonies, such as sale of up to a 
half-ounce of cocaine or heroin, or posses¬ 
sion with intent to sell) and first or second 
offenders charged with lesser felonies (such 
as possession of a half-gram of cocaine or 
sale of an ounce of marijuana). It also ex¬ 
pands drug treatment and other alternatives 
to incarceration. Second offenders charged 
with B felonies, who now face an automatic 
four-and-a-half to five-year sentence, might 
be able to get treatment instead of prison if 
they can prove they’re drug-dependent. 

On the other hand, the bill retains the man¬ 
datory-minimum sentences for all other ac¬ 
cused dealers, and only about one-eighth of the 
state’s 13,400 drug prisoners will be able to ap¬ 
ply for reduced sentences. The bill also revives 
the 1973 Rockefeller law’s original 15-to-life 
sentences, this time for “kingpins” convicted of 
selling more than $75,000 worth of drugs. 

Paterson is a longtime critic of the 
Rockefeller laws and was arrested at a 
civil-disobedience protest against them in 
2002, but he has taken a more cautious 
stance since he became governor. Accord¬ 
ing to spokesperson Marissa Shorenstein, 
he insisted that accused drug offenders who 
wanted treatment instead of prison would 
have to plead guilty first, on the grounds that 
the threat of prison would make drug users 
more likely to stick with treatment. The gov¬ 
ernor’s philosophy is “treat, don’t punish, but 
treat to be effective,” Shorenstein explains. 


The state’s prosecutors largely opposed 
easing the law. And the Daily News called 
the proposed changes the “Drug Dealer 
Protection Act” and said they would un¬ 
leash a crime wave. 

Enacted in 1973 under Gov. Nelson 
Rockefeller, the laws mandated 15-years- 
to-life sentence for the sale of two ounces 
or more of heroin or cocaine or for posses¬ 
sion of four ounces. The state enacted mild 
reforms in 2004 and 2005. Those reduced 
the 15-to-life sentences to eight to 20 years, 
but did not affect the 90 percent of drug 
prisoners convicted of lesser charges. 

Critics charged that the laws were “un¬ 
just and racially targeted,” as Linda Decha- 
bert, head of Exponents, a harm-reduction 
group working with drug addicts, ex-pris¬ 
oners and people with AIDS, put it at the 
March 25 rally. 

More than 90 percent of New York’s drug 
prisoners are black or Latino, and about 
40 percent are incarcerated for possession 
charges. The racial disparities most likely 
stem from the ecology of the drug trade 

— ghetto street dealers are more visible and 
violent than discreet white-collar dealers 

— and the cumulative effects of racism in 
who gets stopped, who gets prosecuted and 
who gets imprisoned. 

“It’s easy to arrest blacks and Latinos 
because they’re in a confined area,” notes 
Carl Dukes, 64, an ex-prisoner who at¬ 
tended the rally. 

Activists developed four “pillars” for 
further-reaching reforms: restoring judicial 
discretion, expanding treatment and alter¬ 
natives to prison, reducing sentences — and 
retroactivity — letting prisoners apply for 
the sentences they would have gotten under 
the revised laws. 

By those standards, the new law does 
improve treatment services. It’s expected to 
provide up to $80 million more for rehab 
and alternatives-to-incarceration programs, 
such as the one run by the Kings County 
District Attorney’s office. New York has a 
harm-reduction system well positioned to 
take advantage of this, notes Gabriel Sayegh 
of the Drug Policy Alliance, as there are 
well-established programs for drug rehab, 
needle exchange, methadone maintenance 
and overdose prevention. 

Most activists agree, however, that the bill 
falls short on judicial discretion and retro¬ 
activity. It also does not change the practice 
of determining penalties by the weight of the 
drugs seized rather than by the defendant’s 
role in the deal. 


“It’s unfair. You’re caught with a little 
amount of drugs and you serve a long, 
long term in prison,” says former prisoner 
Ashley O’Donoghue. “It should be retroac¬ 
tive so the people who are still there can 
get a sentence that’s more suitable for 
what they did.” 

O’Donoghue, now 26, was arrested in 2003 
when two white college students he’d been 
dealing grams of cocaine to were nabbed and 
set him up for a two-and-a-half ounce sale, 
well above his usual range. Facing 15 years to 
life, he pleaded guilty to a B felony and served 
five years of a 7-to-21-year sentence. 

“We’re not saying people should not go 
to prison,” says Robert Gangi of the Cor¬ 
rectional Association of New York, the 
prison-reform group behind Drop the Rock. 
“We’re saying the judge should decide.” 

Comedian Randy Credico, a longtime 
drug-law activist who attended the March 
an honest politician,” said the changes are 


inadequate because retroactive resentenc¬ 
ing is not “automatic.” Less than half 
the 1,000 prisoners eligible to apply for 
shorter sentences under the 2004 law actu¬ 
ally got them. 

Nicholas Eyle of Reconsider, a Syracuse- 
based anti-prohibition group, is also not 
enthusiastic. “I don’t want to sound like I 
don’t support the change, but I’m not that 
excited,” he says. “I’m not a fan of manda¬ 
tory treatment.” Though rehab is preferable 
to prison, he says, most people arrested on 
drug charges are not addicts. 

“If you want to save money and reduce 
crime,” Eyle says, “end prohibition. If you 
question the fundamentals, you have to con¬ 
clude that prohibition doesn’t work.” 

Many activists believe that upstate Repub¬ 
licans oppose reducing drug sentences be¬ 
cause prisons are one of the few sources of 
steady jobs in the region. When the Rock¬ 
efeller laws passed, New York had 18 prisons. 
From 1973 to 1999, it built 51 new ones. 

Eyle disputes that notion. Though some 
rural legislators have complained that clos¬ 
ing prisons would cost jobs in their districts, 
he says they’re not a “strong enough lobby” 
to preserve the drug laws. 

For others, economics abetted change. 
At $45,000 per inmate, Speaker Silver said 
in a statement, it costs New York more 
than $500 million each year to imprison 
drug offenders. The minimal changes en¬ 
acted in 2004 have saved the state $100 
million, he added. 

Nonetheless, some politicians in New 
York State see the issue as one of principle. 
“My Assembly colleagues and I continue 
in our pledge not to give up our fight for 
greater reform of New York State’s ineffec¬ 
tive and imprudent drug laws,” Assembly 
Corrections Committee Chair Jeffrion Au- 
bry (D-Queens), a longtime advocate of re¬ 
pealing the Rockefeller laws, said in a state¬ 
ment after the deal was announced. “While 
today’s agreement brings us closer to our 
goal, we recognize the need to do more.” 



H arlem rapper and activist Immortal Technique recently returned from a three week trip to 
Afghanistan, where he helped create the Amin Institute in Kabul, which includes an orphan¬ 
age,school and medical center. He chose Afghanistan, so that itwouldtosetan examplefor 
others. "If it can be successful there despite the obvious danger," he told The Indypendent, "then 
we can succeed in anything. Why not repeat this experiment here in New York, Detroit, Florida, 
Columbus and other countries across the globe?" Heteamed up with the California-based charity 
Omeid International for the project, helping raise close to $50,000 through benefits and concerts. 
To read the full article, visitindypendent.org. 

—JAISALN00R 

PHOTO COURTESY OF IMMORTAL TECHNIQUE 


THE INDYPENDENT APRIL 17- MAY 14, 2009 









APRIL 17 - MAY 14, 2009 THE INDYPENDENT 


LABOR 


Working to Reclaim May Day 


T he government has committed trillions 
of dollars to bail out Wall Street in 
less than a year. And as the Obama 
administration and the corporate elite bicker 
over what money goes where, those most 
affected by the economic crisis have been 
seemingly shut out of negotiations. 

Caught in between the fingerpointing and 
bank bailouts are the communities that are 
absorbing the brunt of foreclosures and ris¬ 
ing unemployment. But this May 1, the un¬ 
employed, the homeless and immigrants are 
taking their demands to the streets. 

The New York May 1st Coalition, a com¬ 
mittee of more than 40 immigrant and worker 
rights organizations in the New York region, 
will rally at noon at Union Square to celebrate 
International Workers’ Day (May Day) and to 
hold President Barack Obama accountable on 
his 100th day in office. 

May Day is a holiday to honor the social 
and economic achievements of labor move¬ 
ments worldwide, and is a day to rally for 
ongoing struggles. The day was immoralized 
by the chaos and violence during a massive 
labor rally in Chicago’s Haymarket Square 
May 4,1886. The holiday, however, has since 
lost much of its significance within the United 
States. 

In 2006, 120 years later, factory workers 
were joined by social justice advocates and 
immigrants in what became known as “A 
Day Without an Immigrant.” 

“It was almost natural for the immigrant 
rights movement, that was basically a 
working-class movement, to have chosen 
that day, and almost resurrected it here in 
the U.S.,” said Juan Gonzalez, co-host of 
Democracy Now! and columnist for the 
New York Daily News, who has written 


extensively on immigration issues. 

On May 1, 2006, thousands of stores were 
closed and factories were halted as millions 
of immigrants across 200 cities boycot¬ 
ted work and marched into the streets. This 
outpouring helped defeat the Sensenbrenner 
bill (H.R. 4437), which would have made it 
a felony to be in the United States without 
documents and applied criminal sanctions 
against anyone who provided services to the 
undocumented. 

“In 2006 we were victorious,” said Teresa 
Gutierrez, a coordinator with the May 1st 
Coalition and Workers World Party Secretar¬ 
iat member. “We did stop the Sensenbrenner 
legislation.” But the following years brought 
only reprisals from the Bush administration, 
said Gutierrez. “There was further repression 
through raids, deportation, the empower¬ 
ment of local law enforcements to hunt down 
immigrants, [engage inj racial profiling and 
so forth,” she said. 

The U.S. Immigration and Customs En¬ 
forcement (ICE) reported that 349,041 immi¬ 
grants were deported in 2008, up drastically 
from 195,024 in 2006. 

This year, immigrant rights activists hope 
to make Obama fulfill his promise to pass 
comprehensive immigration reform. The May 
1st Coalition is demanding an end to raids 
and deportations, and the legalization of the 
more than 12 million estimated undocument¬ 
ed immigrants in the United States. 

But this year, in light of skyrocketing unem¬ 
ployment numbers, waves of foreclosures and 
the state of the current economy, immigrants 
will not be marching alone. “The economy 
will help mobilize more people because they 
need to express their unhappiness with the 
current situation,” said Carlos Canales, an 


By Karen Yi 



organizer at the Workplace Project, part of 
the May 1st Coalition. 

“Additional forces are coming out with im¬ 
migrant workers,” said Sara Flounders, coor¬ 
dinator at Bail Out the People (BOTP) and 
also a secretariat member of Workers World 
Party. “It’s not entirely an immigrant rights 
demonstration.” 

On April 3 and 4, BOTP organized pro¬ 
tests on Wall Street, urging the government 
to bail out the people, not the banks. “That 
[day] was the anniversary of Dr. King’s assas¬ 
sination and his demand for jobs for all work¬ 
ing people,” Flounders said. 

“He didn’t make a distinc¬ 
tion. And in that same spirit 
[we] take the next important 
anniversary, which is May 1, 
as a workers’ day and use it to 
build solidarity.” 

But while the econ¬ 
omy may help build 
coalitions that cut 
across racial and 
class divides, chal¬ 
lenges remain. “The 
predisposition of 
the U.S. populace 
to support a just 
immigration re¬ 
form is not going 
to be very deep,” 
said Roberto Lovato, a 
contributor to The Nation maga¬ 
zine and New American Me¬ 
dia, a national collaboration of 
2,000 ethnic news organizations. 

Lovato is the former executive director 
of the Central American Resource Center, a 
Los Angeles-based organization focusing on 


social and economic empowerment for immi¬ 
grant communities. 

Still, activists are seeking to better unify 
various communities of color. Larry Hales, 
national organizer at Fight Imperialism, 
Stand Together (FIST) and Workers World 
newspaper contributing editor, is coordinat¬ 
ing student walkouts trying to bridge divi¬ 
sions between the African-American and La¬ 
tino community. 

“These are our brothers and sisters,” Hales 
said, who is working primarily with students 
at City University of New York (CUNY), 
“and especially in this kind of environment, 
we fight for everyone’s rights so there’s no one 
left to exploit.” 




ANDREAC0GHLAN 



Dreams 

Day-By-Day 

C lusters of immigrant day laborers 
gather on the fringes of Green- 
Wood Cemetery in central 
Brooklyn, looking for work as early 
as 6 a.m. every day. They take any job 
they can get — construction, paint¬ 
ing, gardening — but lately, they wait for 
hours only to come home empty-handed. 

Raul is a Mexican immigrant who 
lost his job three weeks ago and has 
worked only two days since. “There’s 
nothing. There’s no movement, there’s 
no money here,” he says. 

With four kids back in Puebla, 
Mexico, Marcelo, who has been in the 
United States for five years, just wants 
to go back home. But between rent, 
remittances and food, “I can’t make 
enough to go back,” he says. 

“It’s not the same as before,” says 
Vicente, an undocumented immigrant 


ments with friends and family. 

The New York Immigration Coalition 
estimates New York City area day laborers 
number 10,000, with more than 117,600 
nationwide. With the economic downtown 
and unemployment reaching 8.5 percent 
in March, immigrant workers who used to 


are about 800.” 

“Day laborers are one of 
the most affected classes,” 
says Ligia Guallpa, coordi¬ 
nator for the Latin Ameri¬ 
can Workplace Project. 
“They work informally 
without any structure and 
there’s no way workers can 
protect themselves from un¬ 
employment.” 

According to the U.S. Bu¬ 
reau of Labor Statistics in 
March, the unemployment 
rate for whites is 7.9 percent, 
while 13.3 percent of African- 
Americans and 11.4 percent 
of Latinos are unemployed. 

“People of color have been 
hardest hit in every econom¬ 
ic downturn this country has 
experienced,” says Maya 
Wiley, founder and director 
of the Center for Social In¬ 
clusion. “Part of this is be¬ 
cause people of color are the 
last to be hired and the first 
to be fired.” 

And historically, it has 


work full time are increasingly turning to 
day labor. 

In Woodside, Queens, day laborers gather 
around Roosevelt Avenue between 65th and 
73rd Streets. “There used to be about 100 of 
us,” says Alan, an immigrant from Mexico, 
who was laid off five months ago. “Now there 


NO WORK: Standing along Roosevelt Avenue in Queens, day laborers waitfor hours on end for any type of workto 
come their way. With unemployment reaching 8.5 percent in March, day laborers are luckto work once ortwice a 
month. PHOTO: ALEX NATHANS0N 


from Ecuador, who just went days 
without finding work. “But as bad as things 
are here,” he says, “it’s always worse back 
home.” 

Many say they have stopped sending 
money back to their home countries; oth¬ 
ers are borrowing from friends or living off 
their meager savings, crowding into apart¬ 


been people of color who have been politi¬ 
cally marginalized. 

“But have you seen anyone from Congress 
here to help us?” asks Jose, a day laborer 
from Cuenca, Ecuador, who has been in the 
United States for more than nine years. “Ei¬ 
ther way they blame us — the immigrant 










STANDING TOGETHER: Members and supporters of the New York May 1st Coalition. 
PHOTO: THOMAS MARCZEWSKI 


Activists are reaching out to non-im¬ 
migrant workers to build a broad-based 
social movement capable of pressuring the 
economic elite. “Race and immigration are 
used as wedge issues to drive similarly dis¬ 
advantaged communities apart and lower 
overall support for policy they might ben¬ 
efit from,” said Maya Wiley, director of the 
Center for Social Inclusion. 

The Obama administration announced 
if would begin talks on immigration reform 
in May. While the details have yet to be re¬ 
vealed, officials say the legislation would 
favor a process for the legalization of undoc¬ 
umented immigrants already living in the 
United States, while increasing enforcement 
of the border and cracking down on employ¬ 
ers who hire undocumented workers. 

This approach equals “trading off le¬ 
galization for increased militarization, 
increased deportation and increased jail¬ 
ing,” Lovato said. “If you limit the discus¬ 
sion of immigration within these borders, 
you’ve already lost. It’s a false approach, 
when in fact there’s global factors that are 
fundamental.” 

Analysists say comprehensive immigra¬ 


tion reform must take into account the 
economic, social and political forces that 
cause migration. U.S. policies “drive busi¬ 
nesses to set up their factories in China, in 
India, in Mexico and Vietnam, [which] is 
the same impulse that is driving workers 
from those countries to the West to seek 
higher wages,” Gonzalez said. “The prob¬ 
lem is that [the financial elites] want to 
lower barriers for capital while increasing 
barriers to labor.” 

“These periods of anti-immigrant hys¬ 
teria and fervor are not uncommon in 
American history,” Gonzalez said. “The 
main difference this time is the massive 
response and protests by the immigrants 
themselves.” 

With the global crisis disproportionately 
affecting workers and immigrant commu¬ 
nities, this year’s May Day will be an op¬ 
portunity for change to come from below. 

“The change will come when more and 
more workers — both immigrant workers 
and non-immigrant workers — realize the 
only potential is organization,” said Floun¬ 
ders. “That’s the only possibility, making 
organized demands.” 


— for coming here. They don’t care about 
us, we are the illegals.” 

Tired of worksite exploitation, unem¬ 
ployment and heavy anti-immigrant sen¬ 
timent, some day laborers are organizing 
around International Workers Day (May 
Day). 

Roberto Meneses, founder and president 
of Jornaleros Unidos (United Day Laborers), 
says this economic crisis is an opportunity to 
unite, educate and find commonalities among 
all workers. 

“Other workers look at us as the rivals,” 
Meneses says, “but they don’t realize we are 
victims of the same system. In our countries, 
we were also fired, because the crisis began a 
long time ago in our country.” 

Organizing workers with no stable jobs, 
set hours or common work sites provides a 
unique set of challenges; a majority of the 
day laborers The Indypendent spoke to at 
Green-Wood Cemetery were unaware of 
May Day or organizations such as Jornale¬ 
ros Unidos. 

And even for those involved in orga¬ 
nizing, participation in May Day is not 
certain. Alan, a member of Jornaleros 
Unidos says he’s not sure he’ll attend the 
marches on May 1. “It’s one day of work 
and sometimes you only work once a 
week,” he says. 

“The system has brainwashed us,” Men¬ 
eses says. “They teach us to think individu- 
alistically, not collectively.” He adds, “We 
learn to think that way — but now look 
where we are. We are the first ones affected 


and the ones with the least defense. It’s im¬ 
portant for us to organize.” 

The New York City May Day rally will 
begin at noon in Union Square, followed by 
a march to Federal Plaza at 5:30 p.m. 

—KAREN YI 

For more information or to participate 
in the May Day rally contact: 

New York May 1st Coalition 

212-561-1744 

Mayl @leftshift. org 

For more information on day laborer 
rights' or to file a complaint, contact: 

La FUENTE 

101 Avenue of the Americas, 17th Floor 
212-388-3208 (Manhattan) 
212-388-2119 (Queens) 

212-388-2149 (Bronx/Wash . Heights) 

Jornaleros Unidos/ 

United Day Laborers (Queens) 
718-565-8862 

jornalerosunidos@hotmail. com 

Centro de Hospitalidad/ 

Project Hospitality (Staten Island) 

718-448-1544 

100 Park Ave. 

El Proyecto de los Trabajadores 
Latinoamericanos/The Latin 
American Workers Project (Queens) 
718-779-2553 

79-09 Roosevelt Ave., 2nd Fl 


Injustice 
Behind Bars 


A n undocumented immigrant from 
Cameroon, Pauline Nbzie landed 
among the inmates of the Hudson 
County Correctional Center in New Jersey 
late last year due to her “illegal status.” 
Despite having no criminal record, Nbzie 
was detained for almost four months. 

“They make you feel like you’ve killed so 
many people,” said Nbzie, whose hands, 
feet and waist were shackled when she was 
taken into detention. “I’ve been here [in 
the United States] for 20 years and I never 
committed a crime, I always pay taxes. But 
I was treated like a criminal.” 

Stories like Nbzie’s are not uncommon. 
On an average day, more than 30,000 im¬ 
migrants are held by the U.S. Immigration 
and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which 
is approximately triple the number in cus¬ 
tody 10 years ago. ICE projects that about 
440,000 will be detained in 2009, up from 
311,213 detained in 2008. 

A single mother of three, Nbzie was 
torn from her children and held in de¬ 
tention from October 2008 to January 
2009. She was denied medical care, ver¬ 
bally harassed by guards and placed in 
substandard conditions. Suffering from 
high blood pressure and diabetes, Nbzie 
waited for two weeks before receiving 
medication. Forced to share a room with 
40 other women, Nbzie said the food and 
living conditions were inhumane. She 
was given a uniform, two pairs of under¬ 
wear and two bras for four months. “It 
was wash one, wear one,” Nbzie said. “It 
makes you feel less than a person.” 

The healthcare conditions in immigra¬ 
tion detention facilities have come under 
fire Human Rights Watch and the Flori¬ 
da Immigrant Advocacy Center, both or¬ 
ganizations released reports on the topic 
in March. 

And, according to Amnesty Interna¬ 
tional, asylum seekers, trafficking victims, 
children and even U.S. citizens are de¬ 
tained under conditions that violate their 
human rights. A March Amnesty report, 
Jailed Without Justice, takes issue with 
the lack of separation between immigra¬ 
tion detainees and convicts, “unnecessary 
and excessive” use of restraints, and inad¬ 
equate access to legal council, healthcare 
and physical exercise. 

Being undocumented is a civil offense, 
yet detainees are subject to mandatory de¬ 
tention without the right to judicial review. 
“No one in removal proceedings has a right 
to paid counsel,” said Kerri Talbot, associ¬ 
ate director at the American Immigration 
Lawyers Association (AILA), “They don’t 
have the same rights people have for crimi¬ 
nal proceedings.” According to Amnesty, 
84 percent of detainees are not able to at¬ 
tain legal aid. 

“Immigrants are being persecuted un¬ 
der the full force of the Constitution of the 
laws, but they don’t have legal access or any 
of the rights under the constitution,” said 
Juan Carlos Ruiz, director of organizing at 
Youth Ministry for Peace and Justice. 

“It’s the criminalization of immigrants,” 
said Alfonso Gonzales, a Latino Studies 
professor at New York University. The Mi¬ 
gration Policy Institute found that 73 per¬ 
cent of detainees have no criminal records. 
“Naturally attributing and normalizing 
criminal characteristics to immigrants [is] 
the organizing principle behind all of this,” 
Gonzales said. 


The Clinton administration widened the 
range of deportable offenses in 1996 through 
the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Pen¬ 
alty Act and the Illegal Immigration Reform 
and Immigrant Responsibility Act. Minor 
offenses became grounds to deport both il¬ 
legal — and legal — immigrants. 

“That’s what allows more raids, border 
expansion [and] militarization,” Gonzales 
said, “It’s the assumption that the people 
that are [immigrating] are indeed national 
security threats.” 

After Sept. 11, 2001, immigrants were 
cast as a threat to national security, result¬ 
ing in the USA PATRIOT Act, the creation 
of the U.S. Department of Homeland Se¬ 
curity and increased funding for programs 
like 287(g), giving local law enforcement 
the power to act as immigration agents. 

The case of permanent resident Tirso 
Jose highlights the relationship be¬ 
tween ICE and local jails and the trend 
toward the privatization of detention 
centers. Detained for possession of 
marijuana, Jose was sent to Rikers to 
serve a three-day sentence. While de¬ 
tained, ICE officials questioned his im¬ 
migration status, putting him through 
four additional days of “hell” at Rikers, 
then transferred him to Varick Immi¬ 
gration Detention Center in Chelsea. 

Locked up in a room with 53 other men, 
Jose was only allowed to leave the room 
for meals — three times a day. Forced to 
wear orange jumpsuits, detainees had 6 
a.m. wake-up calls and solitary confine¬ 
ment as punishment and endured freezing 
room temperatures. Jose suffered from a 
heart condition, yet spent a week without 
his medication, dropping 35 pounds dur¬ 
ing the four months he was held. “They 
treat you like an animal,” he said, “it’s a 
business, they don’t care about you.” 

Detention Watch Network (DWN) re¬ 
ports that there are more than 350 deten¬ 
tion facilities nationwide. “ICE only owns 
and operates seven of them, about 16 are 
run by private prison corporations, and 
the rest are county or local jails which 
ICE contracts for bed space,” said Andrea 
Black, coordinator for DWN. Black says 
county and local jails hold 67 percent of 
all immigrants in detention. 

With the decline in the number of 
incarcerated people, private prison cor¬ 
porations like Correction Corporation 
of America, GEO Group, Cornell and 
Management Corporations are turning 
to providing detention beds for ICE. 
The government gave ICE $1.7 billion 
for detention and custody in 2009. And 
the average cost per detainee is $95 per 
person per day. “When profit motives 
are involved in the process,” said Black, 
“it’s hard to look for alternatives.” 

“[Detention] temporarily keeps this 
population silent — out of sight, out if 
mind,” said Chia-Chia Wang, coordinator 
at American Friends Service Committee, 
“but doesn’t address the real problem.” 

“To have a truly humane system, we have 
to decriminalize immigrants by humanizing 
them and recognizing people’s rights to move 
freely across borders,” Gonzales said. “How 
can you have economic integration in the free 
movement of goods [with free trade agree¬ 
ments], but then criminalize the free move¬ 
ment of people? It’s a total contradiction.” 

—KAREN YI 


cn 


THE INDYPENDENT APRIL 17 - MAY 14, 2009 













6 APRIL 17 - MAY 14, 2009 THE INDYPENDENT 


LOCAL 


ECONOMIC DOWNTURN CRUNCHES 


CUNY Rising 

By Christopher Cascarano 

F ifty students gathered at Hunter College 
March 25 to speak out against proposed 
state funding cuts to the City University 
of New York (CUNY). The rally was organized 
by the Ad Hoc Committee Against Budget 
Cuts and Tuition hikes, which includes CUNY 
Contingents Unite, the International Socialist 
Organization and the Internationalist Group. 
The students were joined by striking workers 
from the Stella D'oro Biscuit Co. in the Bronx 
and members of the New York City Taxi Alli¬ 
ance. 

"Most students think they have to pay the 
tuition orthey can't get the education. We're 
trying to bring students to the realization that 
we could stop the tuition hikes — and tuition 
all together," said Kristine Jungkurth, an 18- 
year-old Hunter College undeclared sopho¬ 
more and member of the Ad Hoc Committee 
Against Budget Cuts and Tuition Hikes. 

On March 5, hundreds of Hunter College 
students walked out of class and joined a 
rally organized by the Hunter College's Stu¬ 
dent Union to protest the proposed state 
funding cuts and impending tuition hikes. 
The students traveled downtown to join an 
estimated 40,000 person rally at New York 
City Hall, where a coalition of labor, educa¬ 
tion and activist organizations advocated for 
a tax increase on the wealthy to make up the 
budget deficit. 

Earlierthis year, several Hunter speak-outs 
were organized for students to share stories 
about their struggles to pay tuition. Students 
at Brooklyn College, LaGuardia College and 
City College have also held small demonstra¬ 
tions. Organizers at City College are planning 
an April 22 walkout to mark the 40th anni¬ 
versary of the 1969 student takeover of the 
campus that forced CUNY administrators to 
adopt an open admissions policy that greatly 
expanded opportunities for people of color. 

CUNY faculty, students and staff have also 
raised theirvoices at campus budget hearings 
being held on 10 CUNYcampusesthissemes- 
ter. Initiated by the Professional Staff Con¬ 
gress, a progressive union that represents 
CUNY's 22,OOOfaculty and professional staff, 
these public forums have drawn crowds of as 
many as300 people.The events allow various 
members ofthe CUNY communitythe chance 
to share their struggles against tuition hikes 
and budget cuts with each other and a slew 
of local politicians and their aides who have 
attended these gatherings. 

Speaking at an April 2 campus budget 
hearing at Bronx Community College, As- 
semblyperson Michael Benjamin (D-Mor- 
risania) told participants that their activism 
had helped prod the State legislature into ap¬ 
proving $4 billion in newtaxes on New York's 
wealthiest residents in order to ameliorate 
budget cuts planned for public higher educa¬ 
tion and other crucial social programs. 

"We heard you loud and clear and we be¬ 
lieve we did the right thing," Benjamin said. 
"[We] understand that if we are going to get 
out of this mess, we have to invest in public 
higher education." 

Campus budget hearings will be held at 
Hostos Community College and John Jay 
College April 30 and at Laguardia Commu¬ 
nity College May 7. For more information, see 
psc-cuny.org. 

John Tarleton contributed to this article. 


By Chris Cascarano 

K okou Ado, a 26-year-old undergrad¬ 
uate chemistry student at City Col¬ 
lege of New York lost his job when 
the retail store he worked in as a security 
guard closed. “Finding a job was difficult 
because I go to school and study all day,” 
he said. Eventually, Ado found another se¬ 
curity guard job, but the stress of being out 
of work and in school hurt his grades, he 
said. 

As local art galleries lose patrons and 
eliminate pay for interns, Heather Saenz, 
a 20-year-old art history undergraduate at 
Columbia University, cannot afford an un¬ 
paid internship to gain the experience she 
needs to get a job in her field, which is rare 
books. 

Suman Saha Ray, a 27-year-old biochem¬ 
istry undergraduate at City College said 
the antiquated equipment in the school’s 
labs is not being replaced, and that there is 
less demand for research. “We have to wait 
around all day to get things done because 
we have to share equipment,” he said. “This 
economy is really affecting everything.” 

College is commonly believed to be the 
best place to be during a harsh job mar¬ 
ket and economic slump; however, as stu¬ 
dents’ budgets become tighter and tuition 
continues to rise, the struggle students are 


experiencing to pay for school is challeng¬ 
ing that conventional wisdom. According 
to students, administrators and teachers in 
New York City, the U.S. economic reces¬ 
sion has made college life just as difficult, if 
not more, than life in the “real world.” 

This economic downturn, marking its 
17th month in April, has made paying for 
already high tuition and costs of living 
much harder for both middle- and low-in¬ 
come students. 

Since 1984 college tuition has increased 
by 439 percent — faster than medicare, 
food and housing, according to the research 
group, The National Center for Public Pol¬ 
icy and Higher Education’s 2008 report, 
Measuring Up. For lower-income families, 
the cost of college is now, on average, 55 
percent of their income, and 25 and 9 per¬ 
cent for middle- and high-income families. 

Before the economy fell, paying record- 
high tuition may have been a struggle, but 
it was possible for most students. This eco¬ 
nomic climate, however, is straining families 
and students as they continue to make ends 
meet semester to semester. Unemployment 
reached a 25-year high in March when it hit 
8.5 percent, leaving an estimated 13 million 
people jobless. As jobs are lost, paying for 
education is increasingly difficult. 

“I’ve seen students and parents lose 
jobs,” said Jennifer Gabourey, a graduate 



BUDGET BLUES: Students at Hunter College rallied on campus March 25 against Gov. David 
Paterson's 2009-2010 budget, which significantly cuts funding to the City University of New 
York. As a result, school officials are proposing tuition hikes. PHOTO: CHRIS CASCARANO 


student at Hunter College who also teaches 
night classes at Hunter College. Gabourey 
is a member of City University of New York 
(CUNY) Contingents Unite, a group of 
teachers and administrators for the CUNY 
college network that is speaking out against 
proposed tuition hikes and state budget 
cuts. “I’ve seen a lot of kids drop classes, 
and I sign a lot of withdrawal slips too,” 
she said 

CUNY students, for example, are feel¬ 
ing crunched by the recession. The state’s 
proposed 2009-10 budget will cut CUNY 
funding by $65 million. CUNY adminis¬ 
tration is proposing a tuition hike of $300 
per semester for senior colleges and $200 
for junior colleges. This follows a 2008- 
2009 budget that decreased state funding 
by $215 million and increased tuition by 
$320 per term. 

The budget cuts and tuition hikes at 
CUNY, where students rely heavily on its 
low tuition and commonly work to pay for 
school themselves, mean many are going to 
have to work harder than ever to make ends 
meet. “This is a regressive tax against the 
students,” Gabourey said. “I’m startled at 
how profoundly unjust this is.” 

In reaction, CUNY students are continu¬ 
ing to organize. More than 50 students 
rallied March 25 against the tuition hikes 
and budget cuts at Hunter College, at 68th 
Street and Lexington Avenue, chanting and 
holding posters. 

More than 60 New School students oc¬ 
cupied a portion of a vacant building, 65 
East University Street, April 10 to demand 
greater transparency and accountability 
from the administration and increased stu¬ 
dent involvement in the school’s budget. 
Nineteen students were arrested in what 
was considered an aggressive NYPD opera¬ 
tion. Earlier this year, dozens of New York 
University students occupied a school caf¬ 
eteria to protest, in part, their high tuition. 

As more family members lose their jobs, 
students often are expected to pitch in to 
help cover tuition expenses. According to 
the U.S. Department of Labor, 37.3 percent 
of full-time students, and 72.7 percent of 
part-time students, held jobs in 2007. Data 
for 2008 has not yet been released; howev¬ 
er, according to New York City administra¬ 
tors and students jobs are in high demand 
and hard to come by. 

Many of the jobs that provide the flexibil¬ 
ity that students need are the same ones the 
recession has claimed. The service industry 
has seen far less customers, and in days of 
slow business, part-time positions are in 
low demand by employers. Some students 
even reported having trouble finding baby¬ 
sitting jobs as families try to cut expenses. 

Joseph Knox, manager of recruitment 
and labor relations for Columbia Univer¬ 
sity Libraries, said there has been a sharp 
increase in the number of students looking 
for campus jobs. Due to the fixed number of 
jobs created in the previous year’s budget, 
the school cannot accommodate hundreds 
of students who want, and need, work. 

Gabourey also reported witnessing many 
students drop classes in order to take on 
more hours at their job. 

One Columbia University student was 
laid-off from her tutoring job and had to 
find work off campus, which is illegal for 
foreign students. For this student, who pre¬ 
ferred not to be identified fearing that her 
student visa could be revoked, finding a job 
was a necessity. Due to a drop in the Korean 






pm I rpr QTI IflCMTO As state budget deficit force tuition increases, 
uULLLUL O I UULIl I o local students take a stand 


exchange rate, paying her tuition and living 
expenses has become more difficult for her 
family in Korea. 

“All the campus jobs were filled so I had 
to find work somewhere,” she said. 

Other students, like Melissa Ramnerine, 
an 18-year-old hospitality student at the 
New York School of Technology, cannot 
find work either. “My mom works in the 
hospitality industry too, and they are cut¬ 
ting her hours and laying people off,” she 
said. “I want to get experience for my major 
and I’ve looked for work, but I cannot find 
any jobs, and I need one because I got de¬ 
nied financial aid.” 

Layoffs, resulting in a decrease in total 
family income, has caused students who al¬ 
ready work to take on more hours, forcing 
them to cut back on classes and study time. 
A recent study by the U.S. Public Interest 
Research Group noted that 42 percent of 
students working 25 hours or more a week 
reported that their job hurt their grades. 
Fifty-three percent of the students reported 
that working limited their class schedule 
and 63 percent said they could not afford 
school without working. 

“I have to find a new major because I 
don’t have the time to do the drawing for my 
architecture classes,” said Paul Gowistows- 
ki, a 21-year-old undergraduate student at 
the New York City School of Technology. 
Gowistowki moonlights full-time as a con¬ 
struction worker in United Association Lo¬ 
cal 1, and said he has seen an estimated 80 
percent of the employees at his company get 
laid off in recent months. 

“I go to work at 3:30 p.m. and work until 
midnight,” Gowistowski said. “I’ll have to 
try engineering, but I don’t know if I’ll have 
time for that either.” 

Charles Jones, a 30-year-old education 
undergraduate student at Long Island Uni¬ 
versity, said he can barely balance both 
school and work. Jones works full-time as a 
teacher’s assistant at a public school on top 
of a 16-credit-hour course load. “I’m not 
even sure how I manage to do both, but it’s 
a stress,” he said. 

Some young people are asking them¬ 
selves, “why college?” and others, “why 
work?” Evidence shows that the recession 



FUTURE UNKNOWN: Charles Jones, a 30- 
year-old education student at Long Island 
University, is only a few semesters from 
graduating and fears thathe will not be able 
to find a job. Already working as a teacher's 
assistant, Jones has seen a number of 
lay-offs and budget cuts in the New York 
City Public schools where he plansto work. 
PHOTO: CHRIS CASCARANO 


has also created a push-and-pull affect 
amongst young people deciding what to 
do after high school. Those who can eas¬ 
ily afford higher education are continuing 
with school to avoid desiccated job mar¬ 
kets; those who cannot attend, in greater 
numbers due to the economy, are looking 
at other options. It seems too risky to pay 
thousands of dollars in tuition, and possi¬ 
bly land in debt, in a shaky job market. 

“I’m worried because I’m getting an 
English degree that is worth nothing in the 
real world,” said the unnamed Columbia 
student who had to find work off campus. 
“One professor is telling us all to go to 
graduate school because academia will be 
the safest place for us to find jobs.” 

For others, college has created a shelter 
during the recession. “Things really aren’t 
that bad for me because I’m going to medi¬ 
cal school when I graduate,” said Dan Ping, 
a New York University music and chemistry 
undergraduate . 

Many schools are scaling back need- 
blind admissions, giving those who can 
afford school better chances of acceptance 
over those who would need financial aid. 
At the other end of the spectrum, there are 
an increasing number of young people in¬ 
terested in opportunities outside of higher 
education. In the latest propensity study by 
the U.S. Department of Defense, the mili¬ 


tary has seen the first rise of interest in join¬ 
ing among 18- to 24-year-olds since 2001, 
according to Eileen Lainez, a spokesperson 
for the DOD. Since the military has a fixed 
number of recruits each year, and the num¬ 
ber does not change, the propensity study is 
the only indicator that more young people 
are looking at other options than school. 

Other institutions are observing similar 
trends, including AmeriCorps, a federal 
organization that helps young people pay 
tuition in exchange for U.S.-based volun¬ 
teer work. In 2008, AmeriCorps had 3,151 
applicants, and in 2009, 9,731, according 
to Sandy Scott, a spokesperson for Ameri¬ 
Corps. “We have seen a significant spike fin 
applications] due to the economy,” Scott 
said. “I think it is driving young people to¬ 
wards volunteering.” 

Unanimously, the recession has caused 
anxiety amongst students soon to make 
their entry into working world. Many of 
the jobs lost are those that college graduates 
would likely be applying for. According to 
the State’s report, 32,000 professional and 
business were lost since February 2008, and 
financial activities lost 28,900 jobs. 

“I’m starting to wonder what it’s all 
worth if there isn’t a job at the end of my 
education,” said Lisa Anchin, a compara¬ 
tive literature Ph.D. student at Columbia 
University. “It is reassuring to be in school, 


but I still have to find a job when I get out. I 
don’t think French departments [which she 
plans to teach in] are doing so well.” 

New York University student Ping was 
one of the few students who remained op¬ 
timistic about the U.S. economy and his fu¬ 
ture. “It will be okay eventually,” he said. 
“What goes down must come up.” 


<£> O? 



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OUR SPEAKERS INCLUDE: 

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TARIQ XI I. KURT VONNEGUT, STUDS TE11KEL, CINDY SHEEHAN, 
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Check out our archiues! 

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All IIS SOMETIMES TAKEN TO STAND FOll “ALTERNATIVE RADIO.” 

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MAY IT FLOURISH! -NOAM CHOMSKY 


THE INDYPENDENT APRIL 17 - MAY 14, 2009 































































8 APRIL 17 - MAY 14, 2009 THE INDYPENDENT 


TECHNOLOGY 


Robot 

Wars 

By Eric Stoner 

W ith little public scrutiny, robotics 
is quickly revolutionizing not only 
how war is fought, but who fights 
in war. While the U.S. military first be¬ 
gan to experiment with remote-controlled 
weapons during World War I, the Penta¬ 
gon had no robots on the ground when it 
invaded Iraq in 2003, and only a handful 
of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the 
air. Today, according to P.W. Singer, author 
of Wired for War and a senior fellow at the 
Brookings Institution, the U.S. military has 
some 7,000 UAVs in operation — more than 
double the number of manned aircraft in its 
arsenal — and more than 12,000 robots on 
the ground in Iraq alone. 

Predator drones armed with laser-guided 
Hellfire missiles have regularly bombed Iraq 
and Afghanistan in recent years, and their 
use is skyrocketing. In 2008, 71 Predators 
flew 138,404 combat hours — a 94 percent 
increase over the year before, according 
to a recent presentation by U.S. Air Force 
Col. Eric Mathewson. And over the last 
year, drones flown largely by the CIA have 
launched missile attacks inside Pakistan 
more than 40 times. Rather than reconsider 
this deadly policy, President Obama has 
become an enthusiastic backer. Since his 
inauguration, he has authorized 11 such at¬ 
tacks that have collectively killed over 145 
people, many of them civilians, and sparked 
large protests within Pakistan. 

UAVs are also increasingly being used in¬ 
side the United States. The Department of 
Homeland Security has deployed unarmed 
drones to monitor the borders with Mexi¬ 
co and Canada. Police departments in Los 
Angeles, Houston and Miami have been 
testing drones for surveillance purposes in 
their cities. And according to the Washing¬ 
ton Post , activists have even reported seeing 
insect-sized spy drones at antiwar rallies in 
Washington and New York. 

In Iraq, there are at least 22 different un¬ 
manned ground vehicles (UGVs) in opera¬ 
tion. While they are used primarily for recon¬ 
naissance and to help soldiers defuse roadside 
bombs, the first armed ground robot was 
deployed south of Baghdad in May 2007. 
The Special Weapons Observation Remote 
Direct-Action System, or SWORDS, stands 
three feet tall and rolls on two tank treads. 
It’s currently fitted with an M249 machine 
gun that can be swapped for other power¬ 
ful weapons and controlled with a modified 
laptop. More sophisticated UGVs — such as 
the MAARS and the one-ton Gladiator — are 
currently being developed and tested and will 
likely see combat in the near future. 

Congress has helped spur this revolution. 
In 2001, the Defense Authorization Act 
stated that one-third of the military’s deep 
strike aircraft should be unmanned within 
10 years, and that one-third of the ground 
combat vehicles should be unmanned with¬ 
in 15 years. And in the Defense Depart¬ 
ment’s 2007 budget, Congress ordered the 
Pentagon to show “a preference for joint 
unmanned systems in acquisition programs 
for new systems.” 

Congressional backing and the increas¬ 
ing popularity of these systems within the 
military have fueled a booming robotics 
industry. The Association of Unmanned 
Vehicle Systems International, for example, 
has 1,400 member companies and organi¬ 
zations from 50 countries looking to cash 
in on the future of war. 



WHAT'S THE PROBLEM? 

While robots spell big money for weapons 
contractors, they will make the work of an¬ 
tiwar activists far more difficult. In all like¬ 
lihood, as the proponents of military robots 
claim, the number of U.S. soldiers who are 
killed on the battlefield will decrease. This 
has been the trend with continual advances 
in military and medical technology and as 
the Pentagon has turned to mercenaries and 
civilian contractors who are not included in 
official death tolls. 

For example, more than 58,000 U.S. sol¬ 
diers were killed in Vietnam. Today, after six 
years of fighting in Iraq, fewer than 4,300 
U.S. soldiers have died in combat. And in Af¬ 
ghanistan, about 1,100 soldiers from Western 
countries have been killed. The use of robots 
is partly responsible for this dramatic reduc¬ 
tion in U.S. casualties. As unmanned systems 
are deployed in greater numbers, that figure 
will drop. 

This may sound like a positive develop¬ 
ment, but its potential downsides are pro¬ 
found. At the same time that the number 
of soldiers killed in war has dropped, the 


percentage of civilian casualties has steadily 
risen. In World War I, less than 10 percent of 
casualties were non-combatants; in World 
War II, the percentage of civilian casualties 
was roughly 50 percent, and today over 90 
percent of those killed in wars are civilians. 
In Iraq, one detailed study estimated that 
more than 600,000 Iraqis had been violent¬ 
ly killed by June 2006. By allowing soldiers 
to kill from greater distances, which makes 
it easier to pull the trigger, robots may take 
this trend a step further. 

There is already evidence that the use of 
aerial drones is disastrous for civilian popu¬ 
lations. The Sunday Times of London re¬ 
cently reported that as many as one million 
Pakistanis have fled their homes “to escape 
attacks by the unmanned spy planes as well 
as bombings by the Pakistani army.” 

Some argue that military robotics will also 
increase the threat of terrorism. “If people 
know that they are going to be killed by 
these robots,” argues Fr. G. Simon Harak, 
director of the Marquette University Center 
for Peacemaking, “then why would they not 
therefore retaliate against civilian centers in 


Life Uncertain for U.S. War Resisters 


O ne the north side of an imaginary line 
that separates Canada from the United 
States, a safe haven for U.S. soldiers 
resisting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan 
remains in jeopardy 

On March 30, for the second time in 
10 months, Canada's House of Commons 
passed a motion directing Prime Minister 
Stephen Harper to stop deporting U.S. sol¬ 
diers seeking amnesty. On March 25, for¬ 
mer U.S. Army Specialist Kimberly Rivera, a 
mother of three, was granted an emergency 
stay of removal. The first female soldier to 
seek refuge in Canada, Rivera was sched¬ 


uled for deportation March 26 to face a U.S. 
Army court martial. At least four U.S. sol¬ 
diers have been deported since last July. 

"This was the fifth time that the court ruled 
that Iraq War resisters face harsher punish¬ 
ment if they're sent back to the U.S.," said 
Michelle Robidoux, spokesperson for the To¬ 
ronto-based support campaign. "These con¬ 
scientious objectors should not be sent back 
to the United Statestoface jail time for oppos¬ 
ing the Iraq War." 

To read the full story by Mike Ferner, visit 
indypendent.org. 


the United States? It only makes military sense 
that they’ll find where we are vulnerable.” 

More than anything else, the prospect of 
U.S. troops dying on some far-off battlefield 
limits public support for military force. There¬ 
fore, if the number of soldiers coming home in 
body bags can be significantly reduced, then 
the public will probably pay even less atten¬ 
tion to foreign policy and future wars. This 
will in turn make it easier for politicians to 
start wars. 

For instance, John Pike, the director of Glo- 
balSecurity.org, recently wrote in the Washing¬ 
ton Post that robots would allow the United 
States to intervene militarily in Darfur or other 
hot spots where politicians are currently reluc¬ 
tant to send flesh-and-blood soldiers. 

Robots will also affect the counter-recruit¬ 
ment movement. Whereas each SWORDS is 
controlled by at least one soldier, progress in the 
field of artificial intelligence may allow a soldier 
to control multiple robots simultaneously. James 
Canton, chief executive officer of the Institute of 
Global Futures and an expert on military tech¬ 
nology, predicts that future military units may 
consist of 150 humans and 2,000 robots. Such 
a development would allow the government to 
go to war with far fewer humans. 

GROWING RESISTANCE 

While a robotized military presents new 
challenges for antiwar activists, it also cre¬ 
ates new organizing opportunities. Many 
weapons builders that develop unmanned 
systems, such as iRobot and Northrop 
Grumman, are publicly traded companies. 
That exposes them to potential shareholder 
resolutions and makes them more sensitive 
about their public image. 

Some military contractors also make 
consumer products. For example, iRobot 
manufactures both the PackBot, a bomb- 
disposal robot that can be armed with a 
shotgun, and the popular Roomba vacuum 
cleaner. As the market for personal and ser¬ 
vice robots — which was valued at $3 bil¬ 
lion in 2008 — continues to grow, boycot¬ 
ting corporations that make both consumer 
and military robots is potentially an effec¬ 
tive tactic for activists. 

With nearly 350 colleges and universities 
reportedly conducting research for the Pen¬ 
tagon, another possible target is robotics 
research funded by the Department of De¬ 
fense. On March 2, 2007, activists with the 
Pittsburgh Organizing Group blockaded 
the National Robotics Engineering Center 
at Carnegie Mellon University, one of the 
largest academic military contractors in the 
country. Fourteen activists were arrested in 
the action, which successfully shut down 
the robotics lab for the day and garnered 
considerable media attention. 

Finally, activists are beginning to protest 
at military bases where the drone pilots 
work. At Nevada’s Creech Air Force Base 
— one of the locations where controllers 
use Predator and Reaper drones to bomb 
Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan — protest¬ 
ers who participated in the Nevada Desert 
Experience’s annual Sacred Peace Walk 
kept a presence outside of the base for 10 
days, and 14 were arrested in an act of civil 
disobedience on April 9. 

When it comes to killer robots, the stakes 
are high. If activists don’t work to stop this 
robotics revolution in its tracks, science fic¬ 
tion has warned us about our potential fate. 

A longer version of this article is published 
in the April 2009 issue of WIN Magazine. 










BRECHT FORUM 

The Brecht Forum is a 
unique left movement center 
and progressive cultural space. 
Every year, over 10,000 activists 
and community members attend 
over 200 public events, seminars, 
classes, art exhibits and special 
performances. 

451 WEST ST. 

(BTW BANK & BETHUNE) 

212-242-4201 

brechtforum.org 


*: 


LUESTOCKINGS 

Bluestockings is a worker- 
owned and volunteer-powered 
radical bookstore, fair trade cafe 
and activist center. We carry 
over 6,000 titles and host read¬ 
ings, workshops, performances, 
discussions and films every night. 
172 ALLEN ST. 

(BTW STANTON & RIVINGTON) 

212-777-6028 

bluestockings.com 

ABC NO RIO 

ABC No Rio is an arts center 
committed to an actively en¬ 
gaged culture and a vision of 
expanded possibilities; a place 
to share resources and ideas in 
an atmosphere of camaraderie 
and mutual support. 

156 RIVINGTON ST. 

(BTW CLINTON & SUFFOLK) 

212-254-3697 

abcnorio.org 

WRL/AJ MUSTE 
^INSTITUTE 

The War Resisters League is an 
86-year-old secular pacifist or¬ 
ganization. The War Resisters 
League shares this three-story 
building with Paper Tiger TV, 
Met Council on Housing, build¬ 
ing owner AJ Muste Memorial 
Institute and other peace and 
justice organizations. 

339 LAFAYETTE ST. 

212-228-0450 

warresisters.org 

COMPLETE LIST OF GROUPS: 

ajmuste.org 


6TH 


ST. 


COMMUNITY CENTER 

Renovated first floor of historic 
Community Center approx. 
1,400 sq. ft. Sound system, 

P. A. and video projector/DVD 
player available for events. 

638 EAST 6TH ST. 

212-677-1863 
sixthstreetcenter. or g 


FREEDOM HALL 

Home of the Freedom Social¬ 
ist Party and Radical Women. 
Available for rent for meetings, 
fundraisers and events. Come 
by to check out the bookstore, 
to talk or to volunteer! 

Mon., Wed., Thurs., & Fri. 
l-6pm; or by appointment. 
Handicap accessible. 

113 WEST 128TH ST. 

HARLEM 

212-222-0633 

socialism.com 

alwan 
FOR THE ARTS 

Alwan for the Arts is an arts and 
culture organization dedicated 
to the promotion and produc¬ 
tion of Arab, Middle Eastern, 
and South Asian arts and ideas 
through concerts, films, theater, 
dance, literature, discussion 
and other media. 

16 BEAVER ST., 4TH FL. 

646-732-3261 

alwanforthearts.org 

REVOLUTION BOOKS 

Revolution Books/ 

Libros Revolucion 
At the heart of Revolution Books 
is the work of Bob Avakian 
and his radical re-envisioning 
of revolution and communism. 
Based on this, you’ll find history, 
politics, poetry, plays, science, 
philosophy, novels — all kinds 
of books and events for under¬ 
standing and radically chang¬ 
ing the whole world. 

146 W. 26TH ST. 

BTW6TH&7THAVE. 

212-691-3345 

revolutionbooksnyc.org 

SISTER’S UPTOWN 
^BOOKSTORE 

Sister’s Uptown Bookstore & 
Cultural Center is one of the 
few Black-owned bookstores in 
New York City. Sister’s 
specializes in African- 
American and self-published 
titles. Sister’s also hosts events 
like open mic, play, readings, 
mini-concerts and various 
classes. 

1942 AMSTERDAM AVE. 

(AT 156TH ST.) 

212-862-3680 

sistersuptownculturalstop. net 

YIPPIE CAFE 

Through old artifacts and a wide 
array of musical talent, the Yip- 
pie Museum and Cafe preserves 
the history of the Youth Interna¬ 
tional Party. 

9 BLEECKER ST. 

212-677-5918 

yippiemuseum.org 

i NYC INDYMEDIA 

A 10-year-old collective with 
separate media projects 
covering print, video, web, 
photography and illustration. 

4 W. 43RD ST. 

212-212-0521 

nyc.indymedia.org 


SURREAL ESTATE 

Two side-by-side buildings 
of collective living space and 
venues that offers gallery space, 
yoga classes, readings and 
bilingual events. 

15 THAMES ST. 


BTW BOGART & MORGAN AVE. 




CHANGE YOU 
WANT TO SEE 

The Change You Want To See 
Gallery is a multi-purpose 
venue that hosts free lectures, 
screenings, meetings and 
workshops relating to art, ac¬ 
tivism, technology and theory. 
During the day it is a collabora¬ 
tive office space (aka cowork¬ 
ing) with monthly member¬ 
ships and daily drop-in rates. 

84 HAVEMEYER ST. 
718-954-1346 

thechangeyouwanttosee.org 

TIME’S UP! 

Time’s Up! is a 20-year-old 
nonprofit, grassroots environ¬ 
mental organization working to 
make New York City — and the 
world — a healthier and more 
sustainable place to live. All of 
our events and campaigns are 
free and open to the public- 
educational and fun bike rides, 
bike repair workshops, movie 
nights and presentations, 
community garden workdays 
and outreach, bike and public 
space advocacy and more. 

99 S. 6TH ST. 

RIDE LINE 212-802-8222 
times-up.org 


©OLJJOIOIIM 


QUEENS 
PRIDE HOUSE 

Queens Pride House at the 
Diversity Center of Queens is a 
community center and gather¬ 
ing place for LGBTQ people. 

We seek to increase access to 
LGBTQ-friendly health and so¬ 
cial resources, build community, 
and conduct advocacy. 

76-11 37TH AVE., SUITE 206 

718-429-5309 

queenspridehouse.org 

EVERY THING GOES 

Every Thing Goes, a trio of co¬ 
operatively owned and operated 
second-hand businesses creat¬ 
ed by Ganas.org, an 80-person 
intentional community dedi¬ 
cated to honest communication 
and cooperation; ETG is located 
near the ferry in Staten Island. 
ETG BOOK CAFE AND 
NEIGHBORHOOD STAGE: 

208 BAY ST. • 718-447-8256 
ETG CLOTHING: 

140 BAY ST. • 718-273-7139 
ETG FURNITURE & GALLERY: 

17 BROOK ST. • 718-273-0568 
etgstores.com 


Other progressive 

public and community spaces: 


MANHATTAN 

El Taller Latino 
Americano 
Latino cultural arts 
center 

2710 Broadway, #3 
tallerlatino.org 

Reverend Billy Talen 
for Mayor Campaign 
Headquarters 
250 Lafayette St. 
voterevbilly.org 

Exit Art 

Gallery with political 
art shows 
475 10th Ave. 
exitart.org 

Judson Memorial Church 
55 Washington Sq So. 
judson.org 

New York Society 
for Ethical Culture 
2 W 64th St. 
nysec.org 

Riverside Church 
490 Riverside Drive 
theriversidechurchny.org 

Manhattan Meeting 
House of the Society of 
Friends 

15 Rutherford Place 
15stfriends.quaker.org 

Clemente Soto 
Velez Center 
Latino cultural center 
107 Suffolk St. 
csvcenter.com 

Schomburg Center 
For Research 
Black Culture Library 
515 MalcolmX Blvd. 
nypl.org/research/sc/ 
sc.html 

Book Culture 
Academic Bookstore 
536 W 112th St 
bookculture.com 

1199SEIU 

New York's Health & 
Human Service Union 
330 West 42nd St, 7th FI. 

Theater forthe New City 
Community Cultural 
Center 
1551st Ave. 

theaterforthenewcity.net 

Unoppressive 
Non-Imperialist 
Bargain Books 
34 Carmine St. 
unoppressivebooks. 
blogspot.com 

Brooklyn College 
Graduate Centerfor 
Worker Education 
99 Hudson St. 
workereducation.com 

WBAI 

Affiliate of Pacifica Radio 
Network 

120 Wall St., 10th fl. 
wbai.org 

Communist Party USA 
National Office 
235 West 23rd St 
8th Fl. 
cpusa.org 


These spaces are listed for informational 
purposes only. 


Art for Change Space 
Alternative Community 
Art Center 
1701 Lexington Ave. 
artforchange.org 

The Lesbian, Gay, 
Bisexual &Transgender 
Community Center 
208 West 13th St. 
gaycenter.org 

St Mary's 
Episcopal Church 
521 W 126th St. 
episcopalservicecorps. 
org 

BROOKLYN 

Brooklyn Society for 
Ethical Culture 
53 Prospect ParkW. 
bsec.org 

Third Root Community 
Health Center 
380 Marlborough Rd. 
thirdroot.org 

St. John the Baptist 
Parish 

75 Lewis Ave. 
stjohnthebaptistrcc.org 

BRONX 

Picture the Homeless 
Advocacyforthe Homeless 
2427 Morris Ave. 2nd Fl. 
picturethehomeless.org 

Rebel Diaz Arts Collec¬ 
tive/ La Pena del Bronx 
Alternative Community 
Art Center 
478 Austin PL, 2nd Fl. 
rebeldiaz.com 

Red Roots Community 
Art Space 

2407 3rd Ave., Suite #3R, 
bronxredroots.org 

Green Worker 
Cooperative 
461 Timpson PI. 
greenworker.coop 

Mothers on the Move 
South Bronx Women's 
Centered Activism 
928 Intervale Ave. 
mothersonthemove.org 

Casa Atabex Ache 
The Houe of Wyman's 
Power 

471 E 140th St. 
casaatabexache.org 

More Gardens! 
Community garden 
250 East 139th St. 
moregardens.org 

Workmen's Circle 
MultiCare Center 
3155 Grace Ave. 
wcmcc.org 

QUEENS 

Local Project 
Community Art Action 
45-10 Davis St. 

Long Island City 
localproject.org 



THE INDYPENDENT APRIL 17- MAY 14, 2009 












ILLUSTRATION AND LETTERING: FRANK REYNOSO / DESIGN: RYAN DUNSMUIR 

























12 APRIL 17 - MAY 14, 2009 THE INDYPENDENT 


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NATIONAL 



By Thom Hartmann 

Editor’s Note: With all the talk about tea 
parties and tax revolts, The Indypendent 
felt it was time for a historical perspective. 

T he real Boston Tea Party was a pro¬ 
test against huge corporate tax cuts 
for the British East India Company, 
the largest transnational corporation then 
in existence. This corporate tax cut threat¬ 
ened to decimate small Colonial businesses 
by helping the British East India Company 
pull a Wal-Mart against small entrepre¬ 
neurial tea shops, and individuals began a 
revolt that kicked-off a series of events that 
ended in the creation of The United States 
of America. 

On a cold November day in 1773, activists 
gathered in a coastal town. The corporation 
had gone too far and the two thousand people 
who’d jammed into the meeting hall were torn 
as to what to do about it. Unemployment was 
exploding and the economic crisis was deepen¬ 
ing; corporate crime, governmental corruption 
spawned by corporate cash and an ethos of 
greed were blamed. “Why do we wait?” de¬ 
manded one at the meeting, a fisherman named 
George Hewes. “The more we delay, the more 
strength is acquired” by the company and its 
puppets in the government. “Now is the time to 
prove our courage,” he said. Soon, the moment 
came when the crowd decided for direct action 
and rushed into the streets. 

Although schoolchildren are usually taught 


that the American Revolution was a rebellion 
against “taxation without representation,” 
akin to modern-day conservative taxpayer 
revolts, in fact what led to the revolution was 
rage against a transnational corporation that, 
by the 1760s, dominated trade from China to 
India to the Caribbean, and controlled nearly 
all commerce to and from North America, 
with subsidies and special dispensation from 
the British crown. 

As noted in “Retrospect of the Boston 
Tea Party with a Memoir of George R.T. 
Hewes, a Survivor of the Little Band of 
Patriots Who Drowned the Tea in Boston 
Harbor in 1773,” Hewes notes, “The [East 
Indiaj Company received permission to 
transport tea, free of all duty, from Great 
Britain to America...” allowing it to wipe 
out New England-based tea wholesalers 


and mom-and-pop stores and take over the 
tea business in all of America. 

The citizens of the colonies were prepar¬ 
ing to throw off one of the corporations that 
for more than a century had determined 
nearly every aspect of their lives through its 
economic and political power. They were 
planning to destroy the goods of the world’s 
largest multinational corporation, intimi¬ 
date its employees, and face down the guns 
of the government that supported it. 

That night, Hewes dressed as an In¬ 
dian, blackening his face with coal dust, 
and joined crowds of other men in hack¬ 
ing apart the chests of tea and throwing 
them into the harbor. In all, the 342 chests 
of tea — over 90,000 pounds — thrown 
overboard that night were enough to make 
24 million cups of tea and were valued by 


the East India Company at 9,659 Pounds 
Sterling or, in today’s currency, just over 
$1 million. 

In response, the British Parliament im¬ 
mediately passed the Boston Port Act stat¬ 
ing that the port of Boston would be closed 
until the citizens of Boston reimbursed the 
East India Company for the tea they had 
destroyed. The colonists refused. A year 
and a half later, the colonists would again 
state their defiance of the East India Com¬ 
pany and Great Britain by taking on British 
troops in an armed conflict at Lexington 
and Concord (the “shots heard ‘round the 
world”) on April 19, 1775. 

That war— finally triggered by a trans¬ 
national corporation and its government pa¬ 
trons trying to deny American colonists a fair 
and competitive local marketplace — would 
end with independence for the colonies. 

The revolutionaries had put the East India 
Company in its place with the Boston Tea 
Party, and that, they thought, was the end 
of that. Unfortunately, within 100 years, 
during the so-called Gilded Age, powerful 
rail, steel and oil interests would rise up to 
begin a new form of oligarchy, capturing 
the newly formed Republican Party in the 
1880s, and have been working to establish 
a permanent wealthy and ruling class in 
this country ever since. 

This is excerpted from, "The Real Boston 
Tea Tarty was an Anti-Corporate Revolt,” 
published April 15 on commondreams.org. 


DEMOCRACY Independent news hour 

N 'vmhh with Amy Goodman 

1HB I and co-host Juan Gonzalez 
m TV-Radio-Internet 

DEM0CRACYN0W.0RG 



The corporate 
media got it 
wrong on lraq< 
lime in to the 
show that 
got it right. 


PACIFICA RADIO 
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PUBLIC ACCESS TV 

CUNY-TV Channel 75 (All Boroughs) 

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9am, Tues & Thurs 

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Audio, Video and Transcripts 


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EARTH DAY 





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THE INDYPENDENT APRIL 17 - MAY 14, 2009 13 


















14 APRIL 17 - MAY 14, 2009 THE INDYPENDENT 


MIDDLE EAST 


Inside Gaza: The Land of Ghosts 



LOST CHILDHOOD: A child from the Najjar family in Khoza'a stands in the remains of his home in March, which was destroyed by white phospho¬ 
rous and bulldozers in an Israeli attack. PH0T0:JACQUIE SOOHEN 


By Anjali Kamat 

GAZA STRIP—In March I entered Gaza 
via Rafah with an international delega¬ 
tion led by the U.S. women’s peace group 
CODEPINK. Three months after the in¬ 
vasion the memories from Israel’s war on 
Gaza are still fresh. In just over four days, I 
heard a litany of horrors. 

One family of 10 in Jabaliya, in northern 
Gaza, hid under the staircase of their destroyed 
home for 12 days with no food and little water 
while U.S.-made F-16 fighter planes and Apache 
helicopters dropped bombs all around them. 
“Each day felt like an entire year,” 42-year-old 
Jihad said. His mother, Mahdiya, can vividly 
recall how, as a terrified young bride in 1948, 
she was driven by Jewish militias from her 
birthplace of Simsim — now a nature reserve 
in Israel. She’s lived through decades of Israeli 
occupation in Jabaliya refugee camp, the larg¬ 
est and most crowded camp in Gaza, and the 
birthplace of the first intifada in 1987. But she 
said she had never experienced such savagery as 
this recent assault. “Every day we died anew,” 
Mahdiya said. “But at least we only lost our 
home and not our children.” 

For others, such as Dr. Ezzeldin Abu al- 
Aish, a well-known doctor and peace advo¬ 
cate who lives in the same neighborhood, 
Israel’s war resulted in a wrenching loss. A 
day and a half before the official end of the 
war, Israeli tanks fired deliberately on his 
home, killing three of his daughters and his 
niece in an instant. 

On the same day, Mohammad Shurrab 
from Khan Yunis refugee camp was driving 
home from his orchards when Israeli soldiers 
fired at his car. As his sons stepped out of the 
car, the soldiers shot 28-year-old Kassab in 
the chest and 18-year-old Ibrahim below his 
knee. Kassab died instantly and Israeli sol¬ 
diers warned the injured father that if he made 
a single phone call he would risk losing his 
second son as well. Over the next 12 hours, 
Shurrab could only watch as his second son 
bled to death. “When the ambulances were 
finally permitted to come at midnight,” he 
said, “it took one minute to reach the hospi¬ 
tal. I went to the emergency room and my two 
young men went to the morgue.” 

In the farming village of Khoza’a, several 
members of the Najjar family crowded into 
a single room late on Jan. 12 as bulldoz¬ 
ers demolished their homes, farms and live¬ 
stock, and white phosphorous rained down 
from above. The next morning a group of 
20 women came outside waving white flags. 
Rouheya, a mother of three, was shot in the 
head by an Israeli sniper and left to die on 


the street. She bled for over 12 hours before 
her family or medics were allowed to ap¬ 
proach her body. 

“Resistance? What resistance?” Iman 
Najjar, Rouheya’s neighbor asked as she 
recounted the killing. “We were all sitting 
in our homes shaking with fear. They knew 
there was no one to fight. We were just ani¬ 
mals in a pen to them.” 

The Sammouni family in Zaitoun, just 
east of Gaza City, lost 29 members in early 
January. On Jan. 5, tank shells struck a 
home sheltering dozens. After four days, 
rescue workers found a few deeply trau¬ 
matized and wounded survivors trapped 
in a pile of rubble and corpses. Staring out 
at the ruins of his home and small farm, 
Abu Adnan is haunted by what happened: 
“I came face to face with death. How can 
I ever forget seeing the bloodied and dis¬ 
membered bodies of my own family?” His 
cousin Hamed As-Sammouni added, “This 
used to be lush farmland. Now it’s a land 
of ghosts.” 

Amira Hass, who has reported for Israel’s 
Haaretz newspaper from Gaza and the West 
Bank for almost two decades, was struck by 
the intensity of this latest war. “The Israeli 
army attacked Gaza as if they were fight¬ 
ing the American army. It’s nonsense to say 
the IDF did not intend to kill civilians. They 
know Gaza very well and they know there 
are civilians everywhere.” 

For many families in Gaza, particularly 
those who live in the south near Egypt, 
the war did not end with the ceasefire an¬ 
nouncement on Jan. 18. In early February, 
Apache helicopters hovering over Rafah de¬ 
stroyed Abu Jameel’s home, farmland and 
a car he had just purchased in the hopes of 
supplementing his dwindling income as a 
driver. This is the second time Abu Jameel 
has been made homeless. He used to live 
along the border and several International 
Solidarity Movement activists including 
Rachel Corrie had tried to protect his home 
from being demolished. Caterpillar bull¬ 
dozers destroyed his home in 2004, a year 
after Corrie was killed. 

As these devastating stories testify, Isra¬ 
el’s war on Gaza did not just last 22 days. 
And long before this war, Israel’s crushing 
blockade of the Gaza Strip — supported by 
the United States and the European Union 
— had reduced life to mere survival for a 
majority of the population. The Israeli pol¬ 
icy of closures, begun in the early 1990s, 
developed into a blockade after Hamas won 
the elections in January 2006, and then into 
a full-scale siege in June 2007. 


More than a year ago, MIT economist 
Sara Roy described the situation in stark 
terms: “Gaza is no longer approaching eco¬ 
nomic collapse. It has collapsed.” 

It seemed unimaginable that things could 
get worse. But they did. 

Some 1.5 million people are trapped on less 
than 140 square miles of land. Unemployment 
is at 70 percent, 80 percent live below the pov¬ 
erty line, and 90 percent of Palestinians are 


dependent on the trickle of international food 
aid that Israel allows in. The rest are forced to 
live off expensive goods smuggled in through 
illegal tunnels that are the target of almost 
daily bomb attacks. 

Gaza is buried under 600,000 tons of 
rubble but reconstruction remains a dis¬ 
tant dream. Since last November, Israel 
has allowed just a single truck of construc¬ 
tion materials into Gaza. The $5.2 billion 
pledged at the international conference to 
rebuild Gaza will remain an empty gesture 
unless there is real pressure to end the siege 
and open the borders. 

Despite their enormous loss, the people 
of Gaza remain resilient. Everyone I met 
was insistent on staying on their land, even 
if their homes are destroyed. But they want 
justice and an end to Israel’s impunity. Abu 
Omar, who owned a tile factory in the now 
flattened neighborhood of Ezbat Abed Rab- 
bo, said he wants to go to court and fight 
for reparations from Israel. “Why do we 
need to rely on the sympathy of the world? 
We want the world to stand by our rights. 
We don’t want their charity, little bits of 
money and food. We are just asking for our 
rights, nothing else.” 

Anjali Kamat is a producer at Democracy Now! 



WITHOUT A HOME: (Above) A mother and daughter stand in rubble in March, surveying 
the destruction of their neighborhood, Ezbat Abed Rabbo, near Jabaliya. PHOTO: JACQUIE 



STAYING GROUNDED: Abu Adnan, from the Sammouni family in Zaitoun, sits with his daughter 
in March at the trailer located where their house once stood. PHOTO: JACQUIE SOOHEN 


















Israel’s Killer Election 


By Jaisal Noor and Arun Gupta 

J ust before being sworn in as head of 
Israel’s new far-right coalition govern¬ 
ment March 31, Prime Minister Benja¬ 
min Netanyahu threatened to attack Iran. 
Weeks earlier, incoming Foreign Minister 
Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the ultra-na¬ 
tionalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, said the new 
government’s “first priority is to eliminate 
Hamas.” 

With bluster like this, it may seem there 
has been a sea change in Israeli politics. 
Lieberman is seen as an extremist because he 
is demanding that Arab citizens take loyalty 
oaths or be expelled from Israel. In addition, 
the new Israeli leadership has rejected the 
“road map to peace” outlined at the 2007 
Annapolis Conference and is committed to 
expanding illegal Israeli settlements in the 
West Bank. These will supposedly be sticking 
points during Netanyahu’s scheduled visit to 
Washington in May to meet with President 
Barack Obama. 

The election does mark the defeat of the 
previous Kadima-led government, which 
favored the U.N.-sponsored peace process. 
Often described as “centrist,” Kadima split 
off from Netanyahu’s Likud Party in 2005. 
If anything, this election is about the con¬ 
solidation of Revisionist Zionism, which 
rejects any compromise with the Palestin¬ 
ians. Labor, heir to leftist Labor Zionists 
that dominated Israel’s politics for nearly 30 
years, has been reduced to just 13 seats in 
the 120-seat Knesset and has joined the co¬ 
alition government. 

Yet breaking down Israeli parties into cen¬ 
ter, left and right is misguided, says George 
Galloway, British parliamentarian and not¬ 
ed opponent of the Israeli occupation. He 
told The Indypendent that “every time Is¬ 
rael moves right, we are invited to consider 
the previous right the center, and this march 
has led all the way to Lieberman.” 

Indeed, while Kadima and Labor orches¬ 
trated the Israeli assault that killed more 
than 1,400 Palestinians, the right gained 
popularity in the run-up to the election 


WALLED IN 

B efore Tristan Anderson was critically 
injured March 13 by a high-veloc¬ 
ity tear-gas canister fired by Israeli forces 
March 13, few Americans had ever heard 
of the village of Ni'lin. 

A San Francisco Bay Area resident, 
Anderson, 38, had volunteered with the 
Internal Solidarity Movement to monitor 
conditions in the agricultural village. 
Located two miles from the internationally 
recognized boundaries marking the West 
Bank, Ni'lin has been gradually carved up 
by Israel. More than 80 percent of the land 
has been seized for illegal settlements and 
Jewish-only roads. 

Now, Israel is grabbing a quarter of 
what remains of Ni'lin, so it can construct 
a massive wall that cuts deeply into the 
West Bank and expropriats land from 
Palestinians. 

The people of Ni'lin have been staging 
protests since May 2008 against the con¬ 
fiscation of their land. Anderson was shot 
during the villagers' regular Friday protest, 
as they attempted to march from their 
fields to the wall. 

To read the full story written by Soozy 
Duncan , visitindypendent.org. 


by arguing that the assault did not go far 
enough or meet its objectives. 

Galloway says Israelis “had the option of 
re-electing the brutal killers of Gaza,” he 
said, “but they chose even more brutal, even 
more desperate killers in Netanyahu and Li¬ 
eberman.” 

Has anything actually changed then? Is¬ 
rael has long been committed to aggression: 
In the past seven years alone, it has launched 
three devastating wars against the West 
Bank, Lebanon and Gaza and reportedly 
bombed Syria and Sudan. 

Netanyahu may warn darkly of Iran’s al¬ 
leged desire for nuclear weapons, trying to 
justify yet another war, but other prominent 
Israeli politicians, such as Shimon Peres and 
Ehud Barak, have made similar predictions 
in the past (while never acknowledging Isra¬ 
el’s extensive nuclear arsenal). 

Settlement building may increase. The Is¬ 
raeli daily Haaretz reported that Netanyahu 
reached a “secret agreement” with Lieber¬ 
man for constructing settlements to cut the 
West Bank in half and encircle East Jerusa¬ 
lem with Jewish-only settlements. But the 
West Bank has long been cantonized, East 
Jerusalem has been slowly encircled and 
ethnically cleansed for decades, and settle¬ 
ments have been constructed feverishly un¬ 
der almost every Israeli government. 

The previous Israeli administration 
“might have spoken fervently about peace 
with the Palestinians,” the Jerusalem Post 
reports, “but in 2008, Palestinians watched 
workers break slightly more ground for new 
settlement homes than they did in any single 
year under the previous” government. 

Kadima supports rebranding Palestinian 
bantustans as a state. Netanyahu opposes 
even this, and Liberman declared that Israel 
was not bound by the 2007 Annapolis con¬ 
ference. Ironically, the Bush administration 
cited Hamas’ refusal to accept these terms of 
surrender as one reason it wanted to topple 
the Palestinians’ democratically elected gov¬ 
ernment. 

Even Lieberman, who revels in declara¬ 
tions of cruelty, having proposed that Arab 
Knesset members who meet with Hamas be 
executed and that thousands of Palestinian 
prisoners be drowned in the Dead Sea, is no 
outlier. 

Founding Prime Minister David Ben Gu- 
rion talked extensively of transfers and ex¬ 
pulsions years before Israel was established. 
Israel has passed numerous laws designed to 
suppress the birth rate of its Arab citizens. 
In 2003, while serving as finance minis¬ 
ter, Netanyahu spoke of the “demographic 
threat” posed by Israeli Arabs. And just last 
December, Foreign Minister and Kadima 
party head Tzipi Livni said of Israeli Arabs, 
“there is no question of carrying out a trans¬ 
fer or forcing them to leave.” 

If anything, the bluster may be cover for 
weakness. Few expect Netanyahu’s frac¬ 
tious government to survive long, increas¬ 
ing the possibility that bombing Iran would 
boost his popularity. One discouraging sign 
is that Israel recently received what Amnesty 
International called a “massive” new U.S. 
weapons shipment. 

Perhaps Obama may warn Netanyahu 
against a rogue strike against Iran when the 
two leaders do meet, but the White House 
will not hinder Israel’s continued coloniza¬ 
tion of Palestinian lands, despite any lofty 
pronouncements that may come from such 
a meeting. 

Little seems to have changed, other than 
perhaps removing the latest fig leaf from the 
occupation. 


H 


% 



ITuhiT 




AT THE BRECHT FORUM 


MAY 1,6PM 

Art Opening: Walking the Winding Streets of Havana. 

Photography by Ana Ratner and Jacob Ratner. 

MAY 2, 6:30PM 

We Are Gaza: An Evening with Nawal El Saadawi and others. 

MAY 25, 7PM 

An Evening with Augusto Boal at Riverside Church. 

JUNE 12, 7PM 

Crisis and Hope: Theirs and Ours. A Talk by Noam Chomsky at Riverside Church. 

Tickets on sale now. 


FOR INFORMATION AND TICKET RESERVATIONS: 

brechtforum.org or 212-242-4201 

BUILDING A MOVEMENT THAT MOVES 

451 West Street (Between Bank and Bethune) 

For more information and tickets contact 
212-242-4201 
brechtforum.org 


THE BRECHT 

FORUM 



THE INDYPENDENT APRIL 17 - MAY 14, 2009 15 











16 APRIL 17 - MAY 14, 2009 THE INDYPENDENT 


INTERNATIONAL 


A Face of Cambodian Courage 


By Katrin Redfern 

I n Cambodia, the weight of many strug¬ 
gles for justice is carried by a courageous 
woman. In a nation that suffers from 
police and government corruption, gender 
inequality, influence from foreign nations 
and corporations, and battles for control 
of resources — land, timber, fisheries and 
oil — it is remarkable that Sochua Mu has 
accomplished so much. 

“Cambodia is a democracy on paper, but 
in reality, is a dictatorship,” said Sochua 
in an interview with The Indypendent in 
March. “Life is still cheap in Cambodia. 
Human trafficking, drug trafficking, land 
grabbing and forced evictions are all carried 
out under the nose of the government.” 

A life-long social justice activist for wom¬ 
en, the poor and refugees, Sochua, 55, was 
the first female Minister of Veterans and 
Women’s Affairs, a position she served from 
1998 to 2004. Frustrated by corruption in 
the Hun Sen ruling party, she resigned to 
join the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) 
with dreams to rebuild Cambodia from the 
bottom up. She was elected to the Cambo¬ 
dian National Assembly in 2008. 

Hoping to change the course of U.S. aid 
and influence in Cambodia, Sochua met 
with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clin¬ 
ton on March 19 in Washington, D.C., at 
the annual Vital Voices Global Partnership 
awards, an international non-profit that sup¬ 
ports women leaders. 

Sochua hopes to lobby the Obama admin¬ 


istration to take a firmer stance on support¬ 
ing democracy and human rights, as well as 
redirect U.S. aid that she says the Bush ad¬ 
ministration focused on military and secu¬ 
rity. According to the U.S. Agency for Inter¬ 
national Development (USAID), the United 
States provided Cambodia $54 million in 
2008 and $700 million total since USAID 
opened an office in the country in 1992. 

“The international donor community is 
reluctant to criticize the government for its 
poor performance on human rights, prefer¬ 



ring to practice closed-door diplomacy,” 
Sochua said. “This practice has yielded next 
to no reforms and donors continue to be sat¬ 
isfied with token actions taken by the gov¬ 
ernment to give a facade to democracy and 
social justice.” 

Sochua traveled to New York City to 
participate in the March 26 documentary 
theatrical performance of “Seven,” which 
presents her and six other courageous female 
leaders’ lives, from Russia, Pakistan, Nige¬ 
ria, Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, Cambo¬ 
dia and Guatemala, in struggles for justice 
and freedom. 

At 18, Sochua was forced to flee to Paris 
in 1972 as the Vietnam War spilled into 
Cambodia and the country fell under the 
command of the communist Khmer Rouge 
party in 1975. Her parents vanished during 
the genocide that claimed the lives of rough¬ 
ly one-quarter of Cambodia’s population. 
She attended the University of California, 
Berkeley, and worked with Cambodian ref¬ 
ugees that immigrated to the United States. 
She returned to southeast Asia in 1981 to 
work in the United Nations refugee camps 
established on the Thailand-Cambodia bor¬ 
der. Sochua remained in exile for 18 years 
until 1989 when she was able to re-enter 
Cambodia. 

“What I saw when I returned home was a 
country in ruins,” Sochua said. “But I was 
no longer a child. I came back to help rebuild 
a nation.” 

In 1991, Sochua founded Khemara, the 
first organization to focus on improving 
the lives of women. In 2002, she mobilized 


25,000 women candidates to run for local 
commune elections, which were reinstated 
after 30 years. More than 900 women were 
elected. She was nominated for a Nobel Prize 
in 2005 for her work against female sex traf¬ 
ficking in Cambodia and Thailand. 

Today, the majority of Cambodians de¬ 
pend on small-scale agriculture, lumbering 
and fishing. However, due to the country’s 
turbulent recent history, land ownership is 
generally undocumented and often contest¬ 
ed. As a result, it is easy for the powerful to 
acquire land and hand it over to investors 
for commercial and tourism development. 
Sochua continues to visit these communities 
who are battling to stay on their land and 
fight for their livelihoods. 

“It is now common practice for powerful 
corporations and government officials to uti¬ 
lize armed forces to push citizens off their 
rightfully and legally held land,” Sochua ex¬ 
plained during meetings with officials from 
the U.S. State Department and members of 
Congress in March. These evictions are of¬ 
ten violent, with soldiers wielding guns, tear 
gas and tasers and burning houses to the 
ground, while citizens are beaten, maimed 
and arrested.” 

When asked if she was hopeful about the 
situation in Cambodia, Sochua’s response 
was clear: “No, not until there is a change 
of regime,” she said. “That can only happen 
when we have a real election that is free and 
fair. The West should insist on that, other¬ 
wise all the aid they have poured into Cam¬ 
bodia will not work.” 



FIRE THE BOSS! 



ia (Andres D'Elia) 


Workers at the recovered Forja auio pans Taciory in Arge 


The Worker Control Solution from Buenos Aires to Chicago 

An evening with the authors and editors of Sin Patron: Stories from Argentina's Worker-Run Factories (Haymarket Books): 
Naomi Klein, Avi Lewis, and the Lavaca Collective; plus participants in Chicago's Republic Windows and Doors factory occupation 


NAOMI KLEIN 

Author of The Shock Doctrine and No Logo, 
writer of documentary film The Take 

AVI LEWIS 

Director of The Take and 

host, Al Jazeera English "Fault Lines" 

CLAUDIA ACUNA and 
SERGIO CIANCAGLINI 

of the lavaca collective in Argentina 


TRABAJADORAS Y 

TRABAJADORES 

DE REPUBLIC WINDOWS 

(Chicago, Illinois) 

LEAH FRIED 

UE (United Electrical, Radio and 
Machine Workers of America) 

BRENDAN MARTIN 

The Working World/La Base 


7 PM ON MAY15TH IN THE 
GREAT HALL AT COOPER UNION 

7 East 7th Street at Third Avenue 

Admission is free. Seating is first come, first served. 

The event will include a panel discussion, with clips of 
The Take by Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis and selections 
from a documentary aboutThe Republic Workers 1 strug¬ 
gle, followed by a book signing.Translation will be pro¬ 
vided for Spanish speakers. 


i m m SPONSORED BY 

f _ i HaymarketBooks 

m " * BOOKS FOR CHANGING THE WORLC 


MAKE IT A DOUBLE-HEADER: 


Co-sponsored by the Cooper Union, The Indypendent, UE 
(United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America), 
The Nation Institute, and The Nation. 


Thursday May 14, 8:00pm. Free screening of the film 
The Take and a Q&A with the Lavaca Collective. Kelien 
Auditorium, 66 Fifth Ave @ 13th St. Ground floor. Please 
rsvp to pelirojo79@gmail.com, as seating is limited. 
















Reporting Dangerously From Zimbabwe 


By Alaina Varvaloucas 
and Jerry Guo 

HARARE, Zimbabwe—“Quick, snap the 
picture, now,” urges Paul Magwenya*, a 
local journalist, as we lean out the win¬ 
dow of our car to take a shot. We are at a 
morgue in the capital city of Harare, which 
has been in the news since last fall due to a 
cholera outbreak and an employee protest. 
The Zimbabwean police force has made it 
clear the hospital grounds are strictly a no- 
go zone, especially for reporters. Worried, 
we speed out of the parking lot, passing a 
police car as we go. 

As we catch a glimpse of the officer, our 
driver chuckles and exclaims, “Eve got a 
journalist in the front seat and two Ameri¬ 
cans taking pictures in the back. I’m really 
asking for it.” 

We nervously laugh at our introduction 
to the clandestine world of Zimbabwean 
journalism, but Magwenya does not find the 
comment amusing. As a journalist trying 
to work under President Robert Mugabe’s 
repressive government, he lives in constant 
anxiety. For years Mugabe has systemati¬ 
cally shut down newspapers opposed to his 
policies and had cheeky journalists beaten 
and tossed in prison. Last year several were 
arrested, detained or beaten, and one pho¬ 
tographer was found murdered after he 
published pictures of injured opposition 
party leader Morgan Tsvangirai. 

Lately, as cholera rages, famine spreads 
and inflation skyrockets, law enforcement 
services have been even more brutal. In De¬ 
cember, former reporter and peace activist 
Jestina Mukoko and journalist Shadreck 
Manyere were abducted from their homes 
and held for weeks before receiving a hear¬ 
ing. Organizations like the Committee to 
Protect Journalists are using the recent pow¬ 
er-sharing deal with the opposition Move¬ 
ment for Democratic Change (MDC) to call 
for increased media freedoms in Zimbabwe, 
and especially for the release of detainees in 
situations like Mukoko’s or Manyere’s. But 
it is unclear when — or if — Zimbabwe’s 
repressive climate will change. 

It didn’t always used to be this way. Mag¬ 
wenya used to work for the Daily News , an 
independent newspaper in Harare banned 
in 2003 when it refused to tell Central In¬ 
telligence Officers (CIO) where it got its 
funding. John Dube 51 ', a former Daily News 
correspondent now working for the inde¬ 
pendent news agency ZimOnline, recalls 
the police breaking into the Daily News 
headquarters. “They were heavily armed. 
Someone is pointing a gun at you and ask¬ 
ing you questions.” 

Since then, Daily News reporters have 
either had to leave the country to find jobs 
or turn to freelance stringing for foreign 
media or online outlets — unless they want 
to work for a local paper dedicated to the 
state. “The local media has no objectiv¬ 
ity. You have to toe the party line or you’ll 
get banned. It’s happened so many times,” 
Magwenya said. 

Magwenya himself secretly works as a 
stringer for CNN and has approximately 20 
colleagues in Harare who do the same work 
for other major Western media outlets. Not 
only is he free to express himself in his dis¬ 
patches however he likes, but he also gets 
paid by wire transfer in U.S. dollars, vital to 
purchasing groceries and other goods as the 
Zimbabwean dollar has become worthless. 

But reporting for foreign news services 
is far from the ideal job. For a journalist 
in the land of chaos, the fear of being ar¬ 
rested is all too real, and the possibility of 


an arbitrary jail sentence — or even torture 
— is terrifying. Though most are accredited 
and are doing nothing illegal, independent 
journalists have been known to wind up in¬ 
jured, missing or dead. 

BANDINGTOGETHER: 

Later that week, Magwenya takes us to a 
legal hearing that Mukoko and Manyere fi¬ 
nally obtain after weeks of illegal detention 
and torture. Manyere is a fellow journalist 
and friend, and Magwenya is concerned 
about him. 

Almost immediately upon entering the 
building, Magwenya ignores us and goes 
to sit with the other journalists. Because 
we are foreign, he does not want to be seen 
with us. We are not accredited, and Western 
journalists have been arrested and deported 
(like Barry Bearak of the New York Times). 
At the very least, journalists are often fol¬ 
lowed by police. Magwenya’s instinct is 
proven correct. Throughout the eight-hour 
day at the courthouse, various informers 
sneak around behind us, and intelligence 
officers with guns eye us up and down. 

Mukoko and Manyere are represented 
by several lawyers from Zimbabwe Law¬ 
yers for Human Rights (ZLHR), a foreign- 
funded association of attorneys contracted 
to handle human rights cases in Zimbabwe. 
They have handled most, if not all, of cases 
involving media workers in the past few 
years — around 15 in total — and are proud 
to say that no one has been convicted in 
court, although plenty have been detained 
illegally. The lawyers argue these cases at a 
heavily discounted rate for journalists, and 
either the journalist’s employers or the local 
chapter of the Media Institute of Southern 
Africa usually pays the remainder of the 
bill. 

The star of the legal team is Beatrice 
Mtetwa, a spirited fighter from Harare, un¬ 
afraid to speak her mind. At one point, she 
openly denounced Mugabe’s government as 
a “rogue state” in a courtroom full of intel¬ 
ligence officers, which was met with stifled 
laughter from the reporters’ corner. “I get 
in trouble from time to time,” Mtetwa ad¬ 
mits. Last year she was even beaten with 
truncheons by the police. 

A recent power-sharing deal between 
Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party and main op¬ 
position leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC 
could create an impetus for change. But 
when asked if the deal will bring new me¬ 
dia freedoms to Zimbabwe, Mtetwa says it 
is too early to tell, but she hopes that the 
MDC will take media repression issues seri¬ 
ously and push for a more independent judi¬ 
ciary that can act to protect journalists. 

Magwenya and Dube are less optimistic. 
Dube indicates that he is uncomfortable 
with the new agreement and unsure what 
the MDC will do with its newfound power. 
“It’s not like since the agreement happened 
now independent newspapers are ready to 
start publishing again,” he insists. “It will 
take a very long time.” 

Time seems to be a variable no one in 
Zimbabwe can calculate. Magwenya says 
that detainees can be incarcerated for any¬ 
where from a few days to nine weeks to 
longer. In reference to the photographer 
murdered last year, he adds, “The regime is 
capable of doing anything.” 

Magwenya constantly keeps that thought 
in mind. There is no part of his day that does 
not involve some sort of covert movement 
designed to keep the police and the CIO at 
bay. When he leaves his house in the morn¬ 
ing, he takes one road through town, but 
makes sure to take a different road home. 



If he is reporting from a certain location 
— anywhere from an aid site to a prison to 
a slum — he will not go there more than 
once per week. Any interviews he conducts 
are behind closed doors, and any names he 
uses are routinely fake. Dube tells a similar 
story, adding that sometimes the CIO will 
tail journalists in their cars and try to cause 
a collision. 

Worried about their security situation, 
some reporters have created an informal 
union of freelance journalists in Harare. 
Dube says the union has a system in place 
where its 35 members check on each other’s 
locations daily to ensure that everybody 
is always safe. “Sometimes if someone is 
doing an exclusive story,” Dube says, “he 
can borrow a car from one of the others 
to throw off the police. We also will some¬ 
times travel together as two or three, so 
that someone can always be on the lookout 
for people following.” 


A STRESSFUL LIFE 

As we leave the courthouse in Magwenya’s 
car, we notice that a CIO officer who had 
been staring at us outside is in the car be¬ 
hind us. For a minute, all of our hearts beat 
a little faster until he turns at the next light. 
Sighing in relief, Magwenya heads toward 
his apartment so he can file a dispatch on 
the day. 

Magwenya tells us about a time he nar¬ 
rowly escaped detention at an opposition 
event by bribing his guard with beer money 
and then sneaking away. “Everyone drinks 
beer here,” he explains as he pops open one 
of his own. “Life is stressful in Zimbabwe.” 

Still shaken from the courthouse inci¬ 
dent, it’s easy for us to see why. 

*Names have been changed for security 
purposes. 


WHERE DO I GET MY COPY OF THE INDYPENDENT ? 



Grand St. Settlement 
Pitt & Rivington 


t?. ov 


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Kim’s Video 
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Bluestockings George Bruce Library 

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Housing Works 
126 Crosby St. 

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156 Rivington St. 

Mercer St. Books 
206 Mercer St. 

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Jefferson Market Branch 
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Brecht Forum 
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Network 

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Video Gallery 
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249 5th Ave. 

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Verb Cafe 

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Videology 
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Pillow Cafe 
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197 Bedford Ave. 

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315 5th Ave. 

Brooklyn Public Library 
Pacific Branch 
561 Pacific St. 

Brooklyn Public Library 
Bedford Branch 
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Terraza Cafe 

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Melrose Ave. & 157th St. 

STATEN 

ISLAND 

St. George Library 
5 Central Ave. 

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Library 

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THE INDYPENDENT APRIL 17 - MAY 14, 2009 17 










18 APRIL 17 - MAY 14, 2009 THE INDYPENDENT 


REVIEWS 


Liberating the Bricks in the Wall 



Everywhere All The Time: 

A New Deschooling Reader 
Edited By Matt Hern 
AK Press, 2008 


I t’s impossible to read Every¬ 
where All The Time without 
Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick 
in the Wall” racing through your 
head: “We don’t need no educa- 
tion/We don’t need no thought 
control/Teachers! Leave them kids 
alone.” 

Anyone who’s attended public 
school knows that formal educa¬ 
tion is far less inspiring than it 
might be. Rote memorization, 
a bevy of standardized tests, a 
near-pathological focus on order 
and discipline ... well, you know. 
You’ve likely been there. 

But what are the alternatives? 
Matt Hern, a Canadian anti¬ 
schooling activist, has compiled 
a 37-essay anthology that asks 
— but unfortunately doesn’t sat¬ 
isfactorily answer — the ques¬ 
tions that need to be posed. For 
example, why do nearly one-third 
of U.S. students leave high school 
before graduating? Why do we 
act as if education happens only 
in classrooms? Why not, instead, 
focus on the learning that takes 
place everywhere, all the time? 


Lastly, why do we privilege book 
learning over apprenticeships or 
less-academic skill sharing? 

While many of the essays in Ev¬ 
erywhere All The Time are anti¬ 
schooling rants, others are more 
thoughtful. Disagreements run 
rife. Some contributors hail Bra¬ 
zilian educator Paolo Freire as an 
inspiration; others, like Gustavo 
Esteva, Madhu Suri Prakash and 
Dana L. Stuchal, deride him as 
undemocratic and conservative, 
an unwitting colonizer. Their cri¬ 
tique rests of Freire’s belief that 
teachers enhance the common 
good. “Freire assumes that the op¬ 
pression suffered by the oppressed 
has disabled them,” his critics 
write. “The mediator must endow 
the oppressed with both aware¬ 
ness and conscience.” 

Okay, perhaps this is fair, but 
I don’t see it. Maybe it’s because 
I’m a teacher, but I can’t help won¬ 
dering how the illiterate or barely- 
literate can effect their liberation 
without the basic tools of survival, 
which in the 21 st century include 
reading, writing and calculating. 
Sure, folks can educate one an¬ 
other, sharing a wealth of social 
and emotional experiences, but at 
some point they’ll hit barriers that 
keeps them out of the job market 
and separate them from main¬ 


stream society. Does that matter? 
I believe that it does. 

The book’s most interesting 
section centers on descriptions of 
actual alternative programs, in¬ 
cluding home schooling. Although 
it ignores the tens of thousands 
of ultra-conservative Christian 
home schoolers who balk at con¬ 
tact with secular authorities and 
whose instructors teach little be¬ 
yond religious dogma and right- 
wing theology, the essays posit 
non-classroom learning as viable 
and exiting. 

In “Democratic Education in Is¬ 
rael,” U.S. educators Chris Balme 
and Dana Bennis describe an in¬ 
triguing set-up in which students 
are paired with “honechim,” ad- 
visors/counselors/mentors/cheer¬ 
leaders who not only monitor the 
student’s academic progress, but 
also attend to emotional health. 
There are no required classes 
and self-direction is the order of 
the day. A youth-led Parliament 
consisting of students, staff and 
parents meets weekly to arbitrate 
disagreements and govern the 
school. Open to Arabs and Jews 
and subsidized by the state, alter¬ 
native schools educate 0.5 percent 
of Israel’s student body. 

That said, I wanted more. What 
do they do when issues of Pales¬ 


tinian sovereignty crop up? Do 
the non-violent conflict resolution 
strategies they employ ever spill 
over into civilian life? What hap¬ 
pens when graduates enter the Is¬ 
raeli military? 

Other alternative programs 
— largely private and requiring 
the payment of tuition — dem¬ 
onstrate that schools can deviate 


from the one-size-fits-all learning 
that currently dominates both pri¬ 
mary and secondary education. 
Clearly, if we truly want no child 
left behind, we need to conjure 
new models. The trick is coming 
up with something that works in 
the cash-strapped real world. 

—Eleanor J. Bader 



29 years of celebrating music of peace and resistance! 

At the Community Church of NY Unitarian-Universalist 
40 E. 35th St., New York, NY (between Park & Madison) 
Wheelchair accessible 
www.peoplesvoicecafe.org 212-787-3903 
8:00 PM Saturdays (doors open at 7:30) 

JOIN US! 


April 18th Ray Collins; 

Marie Mularczyk-O’Connell and Jean Farnworth 

April 25th Celebrate the lives of Eric Levine and Marlene 
Petty 

May 2nd Bev Grant and The Dissident Daughters; 

Friction Farm; Edgey & Delilah 


May 9th Second Annual Tribute to the Songs & Career 
of Dave Van Ronk 


May 16th Carolyn Hester with Karla & Amy Blume 


We’ll be back September 26th—watch the website for news 
about our 30th Anniversary extravaganza! 
www.peoplesvoicecafe.org 

Suggested Donation: $15 or TDF; $10 PVC Members 
More if you choose; Less if you can’t; No one turned away 


Jacking in to the Future 


Sleep Dealer 

Directed By Alex Rivera 

A Likely Story Production, 2009 


W hen the Cruz family’s 
farm in Santa Ana del 
Rio, Oaxaca, is de¬ 
stroyed and the head of the family 
killed, young Memo Cruz (Luis 
Fernando Pena) leaves for Tijuana, 
the “city of the future.” He hopes 
to get work in one of the Tijuana 
factories in which Mexican work¬ 


ers operate equipment hundreds 
of miles away, via remote controls 
plugged directly into “nodes” — 
jacks that connect to the workers’ 
nervous systems. 

It’s the near future, the U.S.- 
Mexico border is closed, and 
the United States has “what it’s 
always wanted: work without 
workers.” Technology has made 
telecommuting to the assembly 
line as feasible as telecommuting 
to the “Help” desk. Goods are 
produced and buildings erected 


in U.S. factories and construction 
sites by robots controlled by Mex¬ 
icans working 12 -hour shifts in 
the sweatshops, which are called 
“sleep dealers” for the frequency 
in which workers fall asleep at the 
controls in a tangle of wires that 
can send current coursing through 
their bodies. 

That’s the barely science-fiction 
premise of first-time writer-direc¬ 
tor Alex Rivera’s richly imagined 
new film. Sleep Dealer is the story 
of what happens to Memo in Ti¬ 
juana, and of Luz Martinez (Le- 
onor Varela), the writer he meets 
there, and Rudy Ramirez (Jacob 
Vargas), the Mexican-American 
soldier whose life has touched 
theirs in ways they can’t imagine. 

In this future, the U.S. armed 
forces fight via the same remote 
controls the “sleep dealer” work¬ 
ers use, policing the world on 
behalf of U.S.-owned enterprises 
and protecting them from “terror¬ 
ists.” The nodes are fiction — so 
far, anyway — and Rudy was the 
remote-control pilot of the drone 
plane that killed Memo’s father. 

Rudy discovers the consequenc¬ 
es of his bombing mission when he 
sees Memo’s story, posted by Luz 
on the reality website she writes 
for. Writers, too, have nodes in 
Sleep Dealer ; Luz sells her memo¬ 
ries along with her words. Memo’s 
account is all the more affecting 
because Luz’s “readers” can see 














A Glimpse From the Belly of the Beast 



Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners 
Defending Prisoners V. the USA 
By Mumia Abu-Jamal 
City Lights, 2009 


I n Mumia Abu-Jamal’s latest 
book, the award-winning jour¬ 
nalist, former Black Panther 
and current death row inmate in¬ 
troduces us to the world of jail- 
house lawyers — inmates who, 
despite lacking formal legal educa¬ 
tion and sometimes even basic lit¬ 
eracy at first, mount legal defenses 
for themselves and other prison¬ 
ers. The need for jailhouse lawyers 
arises from a criminal justice sys¬ 
tem whose scales of justice have 
always been tipped against defen¬ 
dants from disenfranchised classes 
and especially African Americans. 

Frustrated by inept court-ap¬ 
pointed attorneys, many prisoners 
took it upon themselves to redress 
mistreatment in prison and even 
mount appeal cases; their work has 
led to the reform of statewide poli¬ 
cies and has sometimes meant the 
difference between life and death. 

Abu-Jamal has spent and the last 
three decades behind bars — much 
of it on death row — and the book 
is largely based on his experiences 
helping other inmates. His legal 
work has earned him the recognition 


of the National Lawyers Guild, for 
whom he serves as a vice president of 
it’s co-jailhouse lawyer committee. 

But the heart of the book is the 
stories Abu-Jamal tells of jailhouse 
lawyers who fought for creating le¬ 
gal protection for those engaged in 
the field. Legally-sanctioned pun¬ 
ishment for jailhouse lawyering 
formally ended with the 1969 U.S. 
Supreme Court decision Johnson 
V. Avery. However, those engaged 
in the field continue to be targeted 
for their work. A 1991 study re¬ 
vealed that jailhouse lawyers were 
more likely to be reprimanded than 
any other prison population. 

Bill Clinton’s 1996 Prison Liti¬ 
gation Reform Act (PLRA), which 
sought to stop frivolous lawsuits 
against prisons, rolled back many 
of the protections that jailhouse 
lawyers and inmates had won 
over previous decades — the book 
makes a powerful case for its re¬ 
peal. “Is it surprising,” Abu-Jamal 
asks, “that a nation that began 
its existence with Slave Codes, 
then continued for a century with 
an equally repressive set of Black 
Codes, would institute ... Prison 
Codes? Such is the stuff American 
law is made of today.” 

While much of the world was ap¬ 
palled by the revelations of torture 
and prisoner abuse at Guantanamo 


Bay and Abu Ghraib, those aware 
of the conditions inside U.S. pris¬ 
ons were not. The same tactics and 
abuses have long been carried out 
domestically, largely against Afri¬ 
can Americans and Latinos. Were 
Gitmo-level abuses exposed within 
a U.S. prison, explains Abu-jamal, 
the PLRA would prevent the vic¬ 
tim from seeking damages. 

Abu-jamal has long helped gal¬ 
vanize millions worldwide to not 
only protest the U.S. death penalty, 
but also rally against the prison-in¬ 
dustrial complex. His latest work 
makes an invaluable contribution 
towards understanding those re¬ 
sisting it from behind bars; this 
book offers a rare glimpse into the 
hidden world and history of jail¬ 
house lawyers. 

Despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s 
rejection April 6 of Abu-Jamal’s 
appeal for a new trial, he contin¬ 
ues to fight for his freedom. This 
would not have been possible with¬ 
out the support of millions world¬ 
wide. He reminds the reader of the 
more than two million Americans 
behind bars in similar situations to 
himself, and that those in the free 
world have a responsibility to those 
trapped “in the bowels of the slave 
ship, in the hidden dank dungeons 
of America.” 

—Jaisal Noor 


Memo’s stricken face as he de¬ 
scribes the events surrounding 
his father’s death. Stricken with 
guilt, Rudy takes a leave from the 
Air Force and comes to Tijuana to 
search for Memo. 

Sleep Dealer puts human faces 
onto two facets of globalization 
— the new opportunities it of¬ 
fers global capital for exploita¬ 
tion, and the new chances global 
communications offer the rest 
of us to join together and resist 
that exploitation. But the movie 
is years behind in its gender 
politics There are few women in 


Rivera’s Mexico, and except for 
Luz, the few that do appear are 
nearly mute. At moments during 
the movie, I thought wistfully 
of another film about Mexican 
workers and U.S. industry: Salt 
of the Earth , the 1954 account by 
Hollywood-Ten director Herbert 
Biberman of a New Mexico min¬ 
ing strike. In Salt of the Earth , 
events force the women of the 
community into unaccustomed 
— and transformative — lead¬ 
ership. Sleep Dealer could have 
used some of that film’s attitude. 

That said, Sleep Dealer is a rar¬ 


ity, a movie that engages head-on 
the life of workers under capital¬ 
ism. Doing it in the context of glo¬ 
balization was an obvious choice; 
throwing in Mexican-American 
relations and the United States as 
a world police force might have 
been over-ambitious, but it works. 
A little polemical, more than a 
little sexist, it’s nevertheless often 
touching and definitely worth see¬ 
ing for its take on the potential 
futures of globalization. 

—Judith Mahoney Pasternak 


QUEERING THE COLOR LINE Siobh 



Mar co a 



ZAPATISTA STORIES 


bluestockings 

radical bookstore I activist center I fair trade cafe 

172 ALLEN ST. • 212-777-6028 

bluestockings.com 


THU, APR30, 7PM-FREE 

INDIGENOUS VOICES SERIES FILM SCREENING: “N0H0 HEWA: THE WRONGFUL OC¬ 
CUPATION OF HAWAII.” This film unfolds the little known history of the occupation and 
ethnic cleansing of Hawaii. 

TUE, MAY5, 7PM-FREE 

READING: “THE ART OF TRESPASSING” contributing editor Anna Leventhal reads stories 
about sneaking in, crossing over and breaking through. 

SAT, MAY9, 7PM-FREE 

READING: PROTEST GRAFFITI MEXICO—OAXACA. The violence between police and 
members in the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) is reflected in political 
graffiti in Oaxaca. The book lists testimonies and analysis alongside street photographs 
captured by Louis E.V. Nevaer and Elaine Sendyk. 

WED, MAY 13, 7PM-FREE 

READING: HOUSE OF CARDS. William D. Cohan chronicles the fall of Bear Stearns and 
the end of the Second Gilded Age on Wall Street. House of Cards is a cautionary tale about 
greed, arrogance and stupidity in the financial world, and the consequences for all of us. 

MON, MAY25,7PM-FREE 

DISCUSSION: LOCAL FOOD SELF-RELIANCE. Diana Leafe Christian, author of Life 
Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities , talks about how 
to produce your own food and support local farmers. 

CHECK THE CALENDAR ONLINE FOR THE SPECIAL TWO-WEEK INDIGENOUS 
VOICES SERIES IN MAY TO ADDRESS ISSUES BEING PRESENTED AT THE ANNUAL 
UNITED NATIONS PERMANENT FORUM ON INDIGENOUS ISSUES MAY 18-29. 

FOR A COMPLETE LIST OF EVENTS OR TO PURCHASE A GIFTCARD, PLEASE VISIT 

BLUESTOCKINGS.COM 


Oder HAYMARKETB00KS.0RG 


online at 



Leading activists address post-colonial issues and contempo¬ 
rary flashpoints of struggle across the African continent includ¬ 
ing: the renewal of Islamic fundamentalism in Egypt; South 
Africa's post-Apartheid government; the deepening crisis in 
Zimbabwe; and trade union resistance in Nigeria and Zambia. 
This collection marks a powerful contribution to critical debates 
over neoliberal governance, debt relief, social agency among 
the urban poor, trade unionism, and strike action. $17 


THE INDYPENDENT APRIL 17 - MAY 14, 2009 19 













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American dissident Moam Chomsky 
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at Harlem's historic hiverside Church. 



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